MIT Technology Review reports on some new battery technology that could greatly improve battery life and usefulness for hybrid cars and other applications that require surge caharge and discharge.
The future market for hybrid-electric vehicles, at least those that are affordable, isn't necessarily paved with lithium. Researchers in Australia have created what could be called a lead-acid battery on steroids, capable of performing as well as the nickel-metal hydride systems found in most hybrid cars but at a fraction of the cost.Now the really neat thing about this idea is that it is semi obvious. Ultra Capacitors and lead acid batteries use the same electrolyte. Sulfuric acid.
The so-called UltraBattery combines 150-year-old lead-acid technology with supercapacitors, electronic devices that can quickly absorb and release large bursts of energy over millions of cycles without significant degradation. As a result, the new battery lasts at least four times longer than conventional lead-acid batteries, and its creators say that it can be manufactured at one-quarter the cost of existing hybrid-electric battery packs.
Essentially, one of the plates (the negative electrode) in the lead-acid battery was made half of lead and half of carbon, turning the battery into a supercapacitor / lead-acid hybrid.What is also interesting about this technology is that Super Capacitors have a maximum cell voltage of 2.5 volts. Lead acid batteries when fully charged have a cell voltage less than 2.5 volts so the technologies are very compatible.