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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

A Better Battery?

Former British MP Matthew Parris has argued that the solution to the energy crises is a better battery: that electricity is a much cleaner and more versatile fuel than oil. It can be generated in lots of ways. Only one problem--it is not easily portable. A typical car battery has about 1 percent of the store energy of an equivalent weight of gasoline.

Well, Toshiba is claiming a breakthrough in battery technology. A new type of Lithium-ion battery that can be charged to 80% in a minute--much faster than current batteries. It's also more energy dense, and they are targeting the transportation market--hybrid vehicles, for instance.

The press release is a bit vague on specs--it does say that the prototype is small in size (but it doesn't give the weight), and that it stores 600 mAh of charge. For comparison, the sealed lead-acid batteries that I bought for my solar project store 200 Ah--over 300 times as much. And it would take several of those batteries to give an electric car any range at all.

So I hope this is a big step in the right direction, but if they're aiming for the transportation market, I hope they'll come up with something bigger than a laptop-sized prototype, and that it will be something that somebody besides the Pentagon can afford.