Bentley is the latest luxury car maker committing to EVs
According to AutoBlog, Bentley is planning on using the same electric architecture as the Porche’s Mission E, making for a faster, stronger and farther-ranging automobile. “A full electric Bentley is something I am extremely convinced we have to do,” design director Stefan Seilaff told Auto Express. “It should be a four or five-seater and it should also have the possibility to carry a little bit of luggage, maybe not for five people.”
Nissan is using recycled Leaf batteries to power street lights
Nissan has been testing the idea of used Leaf batteries for awhile with its Tesla Powerwall-like xStorage program. The idea of using the batteries in an off-grid streetlight, however, is new and appears to be just the start of Nissan’s new push into grid and off-grid storage.
Much like its alliance-mate Renault, Mercedes and others, Nissan also has a grand plan to use batteries from old and destroyed EVs in several ways. One is for residential homes and buildings that use solar or wind energy, storing energy and releasing it at night or if the power goes out. Another is to use the batteries for “smart booths” that could power cellphones and other devices. Finally, Nissan unveiled a whimsical scheme, “a park converting the bursting energy of children into electricity while they play. Children’s energy during the day keeps the park bright and safe at nighttime.”
Much like Renault’s “Smart Island,” Nissan’s Light Reborn project is more a small-scale test and way to market its green credentials. Namie, Japan, is a particularly poignant location for a test, as the nearby Fukushima nuclear plant lost power during an earthquake and tsunami, causing a partial meltdown of the core.
So far, only Tesla has truly made a big push into the consumer market with its Powerwall batteries and solar panels. By the time 2020 rolls around, however, and large companies like VW release mainstream EVs, the idea of recycling car batteries for the grid will be a lot more feasible — and necessary.
Nissan targets sales of 1 million EVs annually by 2022
Nissan targets sales of 1 million EVs annually by 2022
Nissan is hoping to achieve a target of selling 1 million electrified vehicles across its portfolio by its fiscal 2022, the automaker announced today. The target is part of its overarching strategic mid-term plan leading up to 2022. To be included in the sales total, models sold by Nissan need to either be pure electric or e-POWER vehicles (Nissan’s hybrid system that delivers the performance benefits of a fully-electric powertrain with the range and refuelling benefits of an internal combustion engine).
The overall strategy to help get Nissan to that milestone also includes the release of eight new purely electric vehicle, to follow the LEAF, and a multi brand launch of EVs specific to China. There’s also a new electric mini-car coming to Japan, and a plan to electrify all new Infiniti vehicles by 2021.
Alongside its EV targets, Nissan is also looking to build out its autonomous driving portfolio, with specific goals to ramp up its ProPILOT advanced driver assistance system sales by 2022. Nissan says it’s also aiming to sell 1 million models per year equipped with ProPILOT (which is similar to Tesla’s Autopilot) by that time. ProPILOT should grow more capable, too, with automated multilane driving and destination picking hopefully rolling out in the next couple of years.
Someone Go Find a Practical Use for This Sweet-Ass Conductive Plastic
I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes I see a science paper and think, dang, that’s really cool, I really wish it could do X. Like, maybe a major advancement in flexible, transparent plastic conductors could solve all of my cracked smartphone screen problems. Of course, things are more complex than just that, and a single new material won’t solve my concrete-induced woes. But this latest research definitely conjures some intriguing possibilities.
“Conductive flexible plastics will open up a host of medical and display applications that we can’t currently imagine,” Brett Savoie, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Purdue, told Gizmodo. Combined with other breakthroughs, plastics that conduct electricity well could make for some wonderful gadgets.
Scientists have increasingly been exploring the field of “organic radical polymers,” which have strange electronic properties. These are molecules built from a single regular repeating unit, called a monomer. But their special electrical properties come from a dangly bit hanging off of each monomer that has an extra, unbound electron, called a free radical. This new polymer, poly(4-glycidyloxy-2,2,6,6-tetramethylpiperidine-1-oxyl), PTEO for short, is in the neighborhood of 10,000 times more conductive than its competition.
Building one of these conductive polymers requires precisely controlling each monomer. In this case, the conductivity comes about through annealing, or heating and slowly cooling the material. This presumably arranges the polymer in a way that allows the electrons to move from free radical to free radical along a little electric highway.
This isn’t the first transparent conductor, nor the first polymer conductor. But lots of the existing ones rely on a chemical called ITO, which incorporates the very expensive and brittle metal indium. The new PTEO is not the most conductive plastic, but it takes a lot less work to make than other varieties.
The research has other limitations—the conductivity only works on teeny, micrometer-scale distances.
As Professor Jodie Lutkenhaus from Texas A&M writes in a commentary for Science, “Although the conductivity is exceptionally high for this polymer type, wider application will require this conductivity to be sustained over a larger length scale.” She’d also like to see further analysis of the polymer’s structure to validate the author’s claims in their paper, also published in Science.
In order to be used in a flexible touchscreen, this material probably needs to be combined with another flexible piece, the same way that a transparent, inflexible sheet of glass covers the transparent, inflexible conductor in your iPhone.
The new conductive plastic is constructed from some pretty widely available parts. If the researchers could send the electrons through the conductors over longer distances, perhaps they could incorporate the material into batteries, flexible touch screens, or medical devices.
Maybe it’s spring fever, but I’m feeling optimistic that one day I’ll have an iPhone that, with the help of some neat chemistry, doesn’t crack in response to my own stupidity.
US Utilities Have Finally Realized Electric Cars May Save Them
Pity the utility company. For decades, electricity demand just went up and up, as surely as the sun rose in the east. Power companies could plan ahead with confidence. No longer. From a report: This year, the Tennessee Valley Authority scrapped its 20-year projections through 2035, since it was clear they had drastically underestimated the extent to which renewable energy would depress demand for electricity from the grid. But there is a bright spot for utilities: electric vehicles (EV), which make up 1% of the US car market. For years, that market barely registered on utilities’ radar. As EVs find growing success, utilities are building charging infrastructure and arranging generous rebates. Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric, and New Jersey’s PSE&G have partnered with carmakers to offer thousands of dollars in rebates for BMW, Nissan, and other brands. Now utilities are asking Congress for help as they attempt to keep tapping into EV demand. A collection of 36 of the nation’s largest utilities wrote a letter (PDF) to congressional leadership on March 13, asking for a lift on the cap on EV tax credits. The signatories’ include California’s Pacific Gas & Electric, New York’s Consolidated Edison, the southeast’s Duke Energy Company, and others covering almost every state. At the moment, Americans who buy electric vehicles receive a $7,500 federal tax credit (along with some state incentives) for each vehicle.
Elucidating Zn and Mg Electrodeposition Mechanisms in Nonaqueous Electrolytes for Next-Generation Metal Batteries
The development of nonaqeuous electrolytes enabling reversible and efficient deposition/stripping of multivalent metals has been hindered because of the complexity of electrolyte properties and behaviors. Different cations exhibit different deposition efficacy. Our research explores Zn and Mg deposition mechanisms and explains differences between the two cations.
Significance and Impact
Our research shows that Mg and Zn electrodeposit by two fundamentally different mechanisms. Mg requires a chemical step in addition to an electron transfer step, while Zn just requires an electron transfer step. This result suggests that facile Mg deposition may be reached at higher temperatures whereas Zn electrodeposition may be enhanced by increasing electron-transfer rate constant, likely through additives.
CVs of Zn deposition at a ultramicroelectrode (UME) exhibit an independent relationship between current density and scan rate indicating a simple two-electron reduction mechanism.
CVs of Mg deposition at a UME show an inverse dependence between scan rate and current density suggesting a more complicated chemical-electrochemical process.
By coupling electrochemistry with COMSOL simulation, our study provides kinetic parameters and insights central to the Zn and Mg electrodeposition/dissolution processes.
Addressing Passivation in Lithium-Sulfur Battery Under Lean Electrolyte Condition
Identification and understanding of cycle life limiting factors of Li-S batteries under lean electrolyte conditions; Identification of a NH4TFSI additive to effectively mitigate the uncontrollable passivation issue arising from accumulation of insulating Li2S.
Significance and Impact
NH4TFSI additive enhances the dissociation of Li2S, and largely reduces the insoluble and insulating Li2S particles in sulfur cathodes, which facilitates reversible and sustainable redox reactions and significantly improves the cycle life of a Li-S battery under lean electrolyte conditions.
The cycle life of Li-S batteries under lean electrolyte condition largely depends on the electrolyte to sulfur ratio (E/S). SEM, NMR and XPS measurements indicate that a low E/S ratio creates a critical passivation issue resulting from uncontrollable and irreversible accumulation of Li2S.
The NH4TFSI additive increases the solubility of Li2S and other short-chain species effectively by tailoring the ionic strength of the solution and promoting Li2S dissociation.
SEM and EIS measurement indicate that NH4TFSI enables a homogeneous sulfur cathode and Li anode morphology with sustainable reaction interfaces upon cycling under lean electrolyte conditions.
Are Ikea’s $7 Rechargeable Batteries Actually Pricey Eneloop Pro AAs in Disguise?
If you cheap out on alkaline batteries, there’s a noticeable difference in performance. But that might not be the case with rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries made in Japan. As Matthew Eargle discovered, the cheap LADDA rechargeables that Ikea sells might actually be rolling off the same production line as Panasonic’s pricier Eneloop Pro batteries.
To help add credence to his theory, which is thoroughly explained in this video, Eargle first digs into the long history of corporate takeovers and partnerships that resulted in the Sanyo-developed Eneloop batteries being taken over by Panasonic, with the newer Pro versions now being manufactured at the last remaining Fujitsu battery factory in Japan. If you find a pack of 2,450 mAh rechargeable nickel-metal hydride batteries, it’s almost guaranteed you’ll find the words “Made in Japan” somewhere on the packaging.
But Panasonic is never going to cop to the fact that Ikea is essentially selling its pricier product with a boring label and a much cheaper price tag, so Eargle went one step further by thoroughly comparing the performance of a four-pack of Eneloop Pros versus a four-pack of Ikea LADDAs. After averaging the results, the Ikea batteries demonstrated the exact same discharge patterns as Panasonic’s did, and there was only five-one-hundredths of a percent performance difference between the two brands.
Without sneaking into the Japanese factory to see the actual labels being applied, Eargle can’t 100 percent confirm that the Panasonic and Ikea batteries are exactly the same underneath. Even if they were, there could still be a minor quality control difference discovered during the factory’s testing that results in batteries being labelled as Eneloop Pros or LADDAs. But as a result of his research and continued testing months later, Eargle’s 99.957 percent sure you’re secretly getting a sweet deal on a set of Eneloop Pros when you buy a pack of Ikea LADDAs.
Apple may secure its own battery materials to avoid shortages
According to the report, Apple is seeking to lock down a long-term deal, securing several thousand metric tons a year, for a last five years. The move puts Apple in direct competition with other big players who are also looking for a similar agreement, and advantage. BMW, Volkswagen and Samsung’s own battery division are thought to be engaged in similar negotiations for their own EV projects.
It’s clear from the piece that Apple is only seeking to secure material for batteries that go inside its consumer hardware. CEO Tim Cook has been open about his company’s interest in the “autonomous systems” market, but wouldn’t be drawn on what exactly was being worked on. Rumors out of Apple’s self-driving car project, codenamed Titan, suggest that work is now underway on a plug-and-play system for third party manufacturers.
Procuring a supply of a highly-coveted resource is something that Apple has done several times in the past, often with market-altering results. Perhaps most famously, the company purchased a significant chunk of the world’s NAND Flash supply in 2009, effectively shutting out its competitors.
Dyson’s debut EV might not showcase its next-gen battery tech
Dyson has been working on solid-state batteries for a while, first investing in and then acquiring in 2015 a company specializing is such technology called Sakti3. Solid-state batteries are much safer than their liquid-based counterparts, charge faster and have a higher energy density, meaning EVs could go significantly further with no change in weight. BMW, Toyota, Fisker, Google and others are pursuing this step change in battery tech, but it’s thought Dyson could be the first to market with a solid-state EV, and the main reason it was moving into this new, competitive market in the first place.
Dyson has committed over $2 billion to its EV plans, with half of that going to solid-state battery R&D. Speaking to the FT, James Dyson would only say the company has been “investing heavily in new battery technology, solid-state battery technology… but those sorts of technologies can take some time to get there.” He added that Dyson is still on track to launch an EV in 2020/21, which is slight slip from the “by 2020” window previously announced. The FT‘s sources claim the first model could rely on lithium-ion power, however, with the second and third vehicles switching to solid-state tech.
Insiders said the first car would be a beta test of sorts, used to firm up logistics, the supply chain and to gauge public interest with a production run of just a few thousand vehicles. Later models will be manufactured as mass-market products, sources said, not that Dyson would confirm any of these rumors. Currently, the company still hasn’t settled on a manufacturing base and part suppliers, so there’s plenty still to figure out. But if the FT‘s contacts are to be believed, Dyson committing to a three-vehicle roadmap means it’s serious about creating a new side to its business. If the company ends up leaning on current-gen battery tech for its initial outing, though, it could sacrifice the splash a new entrant pulling up in possibly the first solid-state EV would make.