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World’s first “solar battery” runs on light and air

October 3, 2014 in Battery Energy Storage, Environment, EV News, Greentech, Solar

Researchers at The Ohio State University have invented a solar battery -- a combination solar cell and battery -- which recharges itself using air and light. The design required a solar panel which captured light, but admitted air to the battery. Here, scanning electron microscope images show the solution: nanometer-sized rods of titanium dioxide (larger image) which cover the surface of a piece of titanium gauze (inset). The holes in the gauze are approximately 200 micrometers across, allowing air to enter the battery while the rods gather light. Image courtesy of Yiying Wu (Ohio State University)

Researchers at The Ohio State University have invented a solar battery — a combination solar cell and battery — which recharges itself using air and light. The design required a solar panel which captured light, but admitted air to the battery. Here, scanning electron microscope images show the solution: nanometer-sized rods of titanium dioxide (larger image) which cover the surface of a piece of titanium gauze (inset). The holes in the gauze are approximately 200 micrometers across, allowing air to enter the battery while the rods gather light. Image courtesy of Yiying Wu (Ohio State University)

Batteries Included: A Solar Cell that Stores its Own Power.

By Pam Frost Gorder, Ohio State University

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Is it a solar cell? Or a rechargeable battery?

Actually, the patent-pending device invented at The Ohio State University is both: the world’s first solar battery.

In the October 3, 2014 issue of the journal Nature Communications, the researchers report that they’ve succeeded in combining a battery and a solar cell into one hybrid device.

Key to the innovation is a mesh solar panel, which allows air to enter the battery, and a special process for transferring electrons between the solar panel and the battery electrode. Inside the device, light and oxygen enable different parts of the chemical reactions that charge the battery.

The university will license the solar battery to industry, where Yiying Wu, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at Ohio State, says it will help tame the costs of renewable energy.

Yiying Wu Photo courtesy of Ohio State University

Yiying Wu
Photo courtesy of Ohio State University

“The state of the art is to use a solar panel to capture the light, and then use a cheap battery to store the energy,” Wu said. “We’ve integrated both functions into one device. Any time you can do that, you reduce cost.”

He and his students believe that their device brings down costs by 25 percent.

The invention also solves a longstanding problem in solar energy efficiency, by eliminating the loss of electricity that normally occurs when electrons have to travel between a solar cell and an external battery. Typically, only 80 percent of electrons emerging from a solar cell make it into a battery.

With this new design, light is converted to electrons inside the battery, so nearly 100 percent of the electrons are saved.

The design takes some cues from a battery previously developed by Wu and doctoral student Xiaodi Ren. They invented a high-efficiency air-powered battery that discharges by chemically reacting potassium with oxygen. The design won the $100,000 clean energy prize from the U.S. Department of Energy in 2014, and the researchers formed a technology spinoff called KAir Energy Systems, LLC to develop it.

“Basically, it’s a breathing battery,” Wu said. “It breathes in air when it discharges, and breathes out when it charges.”

For this new study, the researchers wanted to combine a solar panel with a battery similar to the KAir. The challenge was that solar cells are normally made of solid semiconductor panels, which would block air from entering the battery.

Doctoral student Mingzhe Yu designed a permeable mesh solar panel from titanium gauze, a flexible fabric upon which he grew vertical rods of titanium dioxide like blades of grass. Air passes freely through the gauze while the rods capture sunlight.

Normally, connecting a solar cell to a battery would require the use of four electrodes, the researchers explained. Their hybrid design uses only three.

The mesh solar panel forms the first electrode. Beneath, the researchers placed a thin sheet of porous carbon (the second electrode) and a lithium plate (the third electrode). Between the electrodes, they sandwiched layers of electrolyte to carry electrons back and forth.

Here’s how the solar battery works: during charging, light hits the mesh solar panel and creates electrons. Inside the battery, electrons are involved in the chemical decomposition of lithium peroxide into lithium ions and oxygen. The oxygen is released into the air, and the lithium ions are stored in the battery as lithium metal after capturing the electrons.

When the battery discharges, it chemically consumes oxygen from the air to re-form the lithium peroxide.

An iodide additive in the electrolyte acts as a “shuttle” that carries electrons, and transports them between the battery electrode and the mesh solar panel. The use of the additive represents a distinct approach on improving the battery performance and efficiency, the team said.

The mesh belongs to a class of devices called dye-sensitized solar cells, because the researchers used a red dye to tune the wavelength of light it captures.

In tests, they charged and discharged the battery repeatedly, while doctoral student Lu Ma used X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy to analyze how well the electrode materials survived—an indication of battery life.

First they used a ruthenium compound as the red dye, but since the dye was consumed in the light capture, the battery ran out of dye after eight hours of charging and discharging—too short a lifetime. So they turned to a dark red semiconductor that wouldn’t be consumed: hematite, or iron oxide—more commonly called rust.

Coating the mesh with rust enabled the battery to charge from sunlight while retaining its red color. Based on early tests, Wu and his team think that the solar battery’s lifetime will be comparable to rechargeable batteries already on the market.

The U.S. Department of Energy funds this project, which will continue as the researchers explore ways to enhance the solar battery’s performance with new materials.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: Ohio State University.

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Antelope Valley Transit Authority Recognized for Environmental Efforts

October 3, 2014 in BYD, Electric Bus, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Solar

AVTA Electric Bus  Photo courtesy of BYD

AVTA Electric Bus
Photo courtesy of BYD

Lancaster – For the second time in ten years, the Antelope Valley Transit Authority (AVTA) has been awarded the William J. “Pete” Knight AIRE Award for its efforts to reduce emissions in the Antelope Valley.

The award was presented to AVTA Board Chair Norm Hickling during a recent board meeting of the Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District (AVAQMD). “We are very pleased to be chosen as the recipient of this award, and to be recognized for not only providing safe and good-quality transit service in the Antelope Valley, but also for striving to be a supporter of the environment,” said Hickling. “We take our responsibility to the environment very seriously, and are proud to be a proponent of green technology in our community.”

The AIRE award recognizes the steps AVTA has taken this past year to reduce its carbon footprint and become a leader in promoting clean energy sources. In the forefront of these efforts is the purchase of two zero-emission electric buses from Lancaster manufacturer BYD. The electric buses are currently being evaluated to determine the possibility of converting more of AVTA’s diesel fleet to electric, and initial tests have yielded extremely promising results. AVTA also operates 15 diesel-electric hybrids, and is pleased to report not only improved fuel efficiency, but a 35% overall reduction in emissions since September of 2012.

Additional efforts by the AVTA to “go green” include the installation of solar panel carports at its Lancaster facility. The sustainable Photovoltaic Solar Carport system, completed in 2013, is now generating 100% of the facility’s electric needs, as well as providing shade to AVTA’s buses. Solar light tubes installed throughout the facility provide natural light and further reduce the company’s reliance on electricity.

“We are extremely honored to receive the William J. “Pete” Knight AIRE Award for our efforts to make AVTA an environmentally friendly organization that stands out from the rest,” said AVTA Executive Director Julie Austin.

As the state of California continues to experience the worst drought in recorded history, AVTA has implemented water conservation strategies with the goal of reducing water consumption by 75%. These strategies include washing buses weekly instead of daily, and converting much of the facility’s landscaping to xeriscape. As a result of these measures, AVTA’s water usage has gone from 3.8 million gallons to just 900,000 annually, surpassing its goal.

During the award presentation, State Senator Steve Knight, R-Antelope Valley, applauded the transit agency’s efforts. “AVTA is at the forefront in promoting clean, efficient energy,” stated the senator. “The agency’s commitment to electric bus technology and its overall culture of environmental responsibility serves as a model for other agencies throughout the state of California.”

AVTA provides local, commuter and dial-a-ride service to a population of more than 450,000 residents in the cities of Lancaster and Palmdale as well as the unincorporated portions of northern Los Angeles County. Its total service area covers 1,200 square miles and it is bounded by the Kern County line to the north, the San Bernardino County line to the east, the Angeles National Forest to the south, and Interstate 5 to the West.

This article (10-1-14) is an EV News Report repost, credit: AVTA.

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Green Charge Networks Signs Lithium-Ion Battery Supply Agreement with Samsung SDI

October 3, 2014 in Battery Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, Environment, EV charging, EV News, Greentech, Large Energy Storage

Samsung SDI and Green Charge Networks Partner to Provide Intelligent Energy Storage Worldwide

Photo courtesy of Samsung SDI

Photo courtesy of Samsung SDI

SANTA CLARA, Calif. – Clean tech market leaders Green Charge Networks and Samsung SDI today announced the signing of a strategic supply agreement to deliver as much as 25 megawatt-hours (MWh) of lithium-ion batteries over the next two years. The agreement guarantees Green Charge has adequate supply of batteries as it seeks to expand its leading position in the growing market for intelligent energy storage.

Samsung SDI is the leading manufacturer of lithium-ion batteries for stationary energy storage, electric vehicles, as well as consumer electronics. In February 2014, Samsung SDI announced an investment of $600 million to build China’s largest automotive lithium-ion battery manufacturing plant in Shaanxi province. The plant will begin operation in October 2015 with an annual capacity of enabling battery supply for over 40,000 EVs. Samsung SDI formed the strategic alliance with Green Charge as it has emerged as the leading solution in distributed energy storage with a fast growing list of brand name customers.

The GreenStationTM software-driven energy storage systems are installed and operating at commercial businesses, cities, and schools from coast to coast. After more than a year of technical collaboration, Green Charge chose Samsung SDI as its primary source for lithium-ion due to its safety, quality standards, and 10-year warranty. In addition to scale, Samsung SDI has met the highest level of performance and reliability demanded by Green Charge’s customers. By agreeing to purchase as much as 25 MWh of batteries from Samsung, Green Charge assures itself access to safe and reliable lithium-ion batteries to expand its market-leading position. Samsung SDI, in turns, benefits by gaining access to the growing mid-tier U.S. energy storage market.

“Green Charge’s partnership with Samsung affirms our commitment to using the best technology to deliver exceptional results to our customers,” said Vic Shao, CEO at Green Charge Networks. “Our customers count on us to use safe, reliable, and robust battery technology. This partnership solidifies the quality and value of the GreenStation platform.”

“Distributed energy storage will follow the same growth trajectory as distributed solar in the years to come,” said Woo-chan Kim, SVP of Samsung SDI. “We are pleased to partner with Green Charge as it has developed one of the most advanced and software-driven energy storage solutions. This partnership will vastly accelerate deployment in the emerging battery storage market in America and beyond.”

About Samsung SDI

Having entered the secondary Li-ion battery business in 2000, Samsung SDI has developed and grown into a market leader. Li-ion battery manufacturing now serves as one of Samsung SDI’s core businesses as it seeks to restructure its business portfolio from electronic display products to eco-friendly energy solutions, thereby writing another chapter of our industrial history in energy sector. The secondary lithium-ion batteries manufactured by Samsung SDI are rapidly expanding their applications from digital mobile devices such as cell phone and laptop to electric vehicles such as xEV and Energy Storage System (ESS). Our employees are sparing no effort to further develop new and innovative technologies and products and to expand our presence into untapped markets. For more information, visit http://www.samsungsdi.com/main.

About Green Charge Networks, LLC (Green Charge)

Founded in 2009, Green Charge Networks is a leader in intelligent customer-sited energy storage. The company gives commercial and industrial businesses, municipalities, and schools control of rising demand rates on their monthly electric bills. Green Charge’s product complements solar PV, electric vehicle charging, and energy efficiency. The GreenStationTM was developed in partnership with leading utilities and Fortune 500 customers from coast to coast. K Road DG is the lead investor in Green Charge, with $56M investment announced in July 2014. Green Charge is headquartered in Santa Clara, CA with offices in New York City. For more information, visit www.GreenCharge.Net.

This article (10-1-14) is an EV News Report repost, credit: Samsung SDI.

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Panasonic announces the establishment of Panasonic Energy Corporation of North America, a new manufacturing company of lithium-ion batteries at the Tesla Gigafactory

October 3, 2014 in Battery Energy Storage, Electric Vehicles, EV News, Tesla

Osaka, Japan – Panasonic Corporation announced today that it has established a new manufacturing company of lithium-ion batteries, Panasonic Energy Corporation of North America in Sparks, Nevada, the United States on October 1, 2014.

Tesla and Panasonic have been working together in various collaborative projects toward the popularization and growth of electric vehicles since 2007.

A new company, Panasonic Energy Corporation of North America will be built in the Tesla Gigafactory, a large-scale battery manufacturing plant which has been discussed between Tesla and Panasonic, and will produce and sell lithium-ion batteries. This new factory will enable a continuous reduction in the cost of long range battery packs in parallel with manufacturing at the volumes required to enable Tesla to meet its goal of advancing mass market electric vehicles. Through this cooperation, Panasonic will contribute to accelerate the expansion of the electric vehicle market.

Panasonic plans to continuously expand operations meeting with Tesla’s vehicle delivery schedule, driven by the progressive role out of new vehicles and across global markets.

Overview of New Company

Corporate name Panasonic Energy Corporation of North America (ABBR:PENA)
Establishment Oct. 1, 2014
Location Sparks, Nevada, USA
Principal lines of business Production and sales of lithium-ion battery cells
Stated capital 5 million US dollars (Capital investor: Panasonic Corporation of North America)
Name and title of representative CEO: Masayuki Kitabayashi
Area of factory 555,000 square meters

About Panasonic

Panasonic Corporation is a worldwide leader in the development and engineering of electronic technologies and solutions for customers in residential, non-residential, mobility and personal applications. Since its founding in 1918, the company has expanded globally and now operates over 500 consolidated companies worldwide, recording consolidated net sales of 7.74 trillion yen for the year ended March 31, 2014. Committed to pursuing new value through innovation across divisional lines, the company strives to create a better life and a better world for its customers. For more information about Panasonic, please visit the company’s website at http://panasonic.net/.

Image courtesy of Tesla

Image courtesy of Tesla

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: Panasonic.

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Tech Focus: Electric hybrid cars star at Paris Motor Show

October 3, 2014 in EV News

By Formula E

Renault Eolab concept Image courtesy of Formula E

Renault Eolab electric hybrid car concept
Image courtesy of Formula E

The future of family cars will be super-economical electric and electric hybrids according to the new and concept models on display in the Paris Motor Show, reinforcing one of the key messages of the FIA Formula E Championship.

Demonstrating a vision of its future models, Renault gave a world debut to its Eolab concept – an electric hybrid vehicle that is capable of 282mpg (1l per 100km) and emits just 22g/km of carbon dioxide.

The impressive figures come from a special lightweight construction and stunningly aerodynamic design. The car is powered by a one-litre three-cylinder petrol engine producing a claimed 74bhp and an electric motor with 54bhp and a whopping 148lb ft (200Nm) of torque.

Renault boss Carlos Ghosn said: “The Eolab is the perfect illustration of how Renault is dedicated to still developing plug-in hybrid, hybrid, diesel powertrains and can still innovate, not just focus on making EVs. For us, it is not either/or – there is all sorts of technology we are still developing.”

The Eolab is expected to go on sale ‘within 10 years’, but you won’t have to wait anyway near as long for Mercedes-Benz’s all-electric B-class, which has been developed in conjunction with Tesla. The motor produces an impressive 251lb ft (340Nm) of torque, which will mean it’s the fastest accelerating of all the B-class variants when it goes on sale next year, although top speed will be limited to 100mph (160kmh).

Charge time is expected to be three hours, while the range is stated as 125 miles (200km).

Infiniti showcased a premium luxury saloon concept – the Q80 Inspiration – that uses a 3.0-litre V6 engine combined with a lithium-ion battery pack to create well over 500 bhp and 500 lb ft (677Nm) of torque, yet can do more than 50mpg (5.6l per 100km) and produces only 129g/km.

Infiniti has already confirmed the car will eventually go into the production, and is expected to be on sale in ‘three to five’ years.

This article is an EV News Report repost, credit: Formula E.