US Funds $3M Research Project Into Lithium-Free Rechargeable Battery Technology – Slashdot

November 15, 2022
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I must have seen at least a dozen various announcements of radical new battery tech over the past few months, layered on top of all the ones from years past that couldn’t be scaled up or otherwise went nowhere. Most of them had a lot more details about the wonderful tech than this fluffy article. But hey, good luck to Oregon State University.

The article points out that the price of lithium tripled in 2021, and according to the International Energy Agency, the world could face lithium shortages by 2025.

The article points out that the price of lithium tripled in 2021, and according to the International Energy Agency, the world could face lithium shortages by 2025.
Actually, what the International Energy Agency said was “As highlighted in last year’s IEA special report on The Role of Critical Minerals in Clean Energy Transitions, the world faces potential shortages of lithium and cobalt as early as 2025 unless sufficient investments are made to expand production.” Link [iea.org] So it’s not like we are running out of lithium, just that we need to ramp up production if we want to meet the projected demand at current usage.
According to the know reserves of 21 Million metric tons of lithium, our annual mining of 85,000 metric tons per year will only last about another 247 years at current consumption. It doesn’t mean that getting to all that lithium will be easy, but we are a long way from running out. Global lithium reserves and production, minus data from United States [usgs.gov]
The problem is that the same environmentalists that really love lithium really hate lithium mining and refining processes. For a very good reason mind you. It’s extremely polluting.
Just saw that here in Finland. Large mining company made a reservation to search for lithium near city of Porvoo. Technically pretty ideal place to look for it. Old bedrock with likely plentiful deposits, good infrastructure and access to a large port facility nearby.
Greens (local political party) immediately had a meltdown and p
[lithium mining] It’s extremely polluting.
Except: that it is not. Lol – no idea why people believe this myth.
Lithium is mostly mined by extracting ti from hot water, either by pumping the water up, or pumping cold water down and get it up warm/hot. (* facepalm *)
That would be because that is not lithium mining, but lithium evaporation. Done primarily in South America, where lithium is available in brines.
Lithium mining on the other hand is where lithium is extracted from ores. And being as reactive as lithium is, immediate refining process is exceptionally nasty in terms of necessary chemistry.

According to the know reserves of 21 Million metric tons of lithium, our annual mining of 85,000 metric tons per year will only last about another 247 years at current consumption. It doesn’t mean that getting to all that lithium will be easy, but we are a long way from running out. Global lithium reserves and production, minus data from United States [usgs.gov]

According to the know reserves of 21 Million metric tons of lithium, our annual mining of 85,000 metric tons per year will only last about another 247 years at current consumption. It doesn’t mean that getting to all that lithium will be easy, but we are a long way from running out. Global lithium reserves and production, minus data from United States [usgs.gov]
Yup.
If the Li reserves is anything like how “oil reserves” was calculated, I bet that 20 years later we would have *more* know reserves, rather than less.
That’s what happened with the oil reserves, because people keep finding oil in more and more places. As we pumped oil out from “known” reserves, new previously unknown reserves were found. As a result, we are always left with “40 more years” of oil, which had been going for more than 40 years by now. Yes, the new reserves are in harder and harder to rea
Three words: Peak oil

The problem is that unicorn pee and fairy dust are even more scarce than lithium.

The problem is that unicorn pee and fairy dust are even more scarce than lithium.
Anion batteries use negative charge carriers such as fluorine or chlorine and carbon-based cathodes.
These elements are far more abundant than lithium.
The biggest drawback is they operate at high temperatures. So you may have trouble starting your car with a fluoride battery in North Dakota but would have no problem on the surface of Venus.
Perhaps this research can overcome that limitation.
Fluoride Battery [wikipedia.org]

So you may have trouble starting your car with a fluoride battery in North Dakota but would have no problem on the surface of Venus. Perhaps this research can overcome that limitation.

So you may have trouble starting your car with a fluoride battery in North Dakota but would have no problem on the surface of Venus. Perhaps this research can overcome that limitation.
We don’t need research to overcome that limitation. Just let global warming run unchecked for long enough and presto, we’ll have cheap batteries we can run anywhere on Earth!
We’re close to historic global thermal minimum right now as we’ve only recently exited the last ice age. Global maximums from when atmosphere had enough oxygen to sustain mitochondria-based life are not that much higher, in spite of hilarious “we’re going to kill the planet by overheating it and burning it” narratives.
The problem is speed of the change, not the goal where it ends up.

No, it really isn’t. It’s in fact the opposite. We want planet to be generally warmer, because it opens up vast swathes of currently marginal lands

No, it really isn’t. It’s in fact the opposite. We want planet to be generally warmer, because it opens up vast swathes of currently marginal lands
Most of those lands aren’t going to magically become useful for farming, and even if they were, the runaway climate effects would simply continue to take us past that point.
And do try to remember that temps during the interglacials are lower than the (very)long term normal temps for this planet.

Last time I looked, temp increases from AGW will bring global temps ALMOST up to the point that was “normal” during the last interglacial.

Last time I looked, temp increases from AGW will bring global temps ALMOST up to the point that was “normal” during the last interglacial.
Nope. As long as we don’t have a plan for arresting AGW, and since we’re into runaway methane, it’s not just going to stop.
Arresting global warming would be suicide. Unlike warming, which increases planet’s biomass and viability for organic life, cooling reduces it.
We want a planet more viable for organic life, not less. Again, the problem isn’t the end goal. Warming is great. It’s why we now have plant life all the way up to continental north. Just a few tens of thousands of years ago, nothing lived there except some bacterium that can survive on the glacier.
It’s weird how when religious nutjobs took over the originally scient
We want planet to be generally warmer, because it opens up vast swathes of currently marginal lands,
That is wrong. The hard to use land does not change latitude, just because it gets warmer, hence the days and nights and winters and summers: stay the same.
and the main reason why planet could support megaflore and megafauna in the past while the current one still can’t is because the planet is still extremely cold by historic standards.
That is wrong, too.
The mega Fauna existed because of the higher oxygen l
No, it existed because of higher CO2 levels. It’s the same reason we pump our greenhouses up to 1200-1500 ppm CO2, as opposed to a bit over 400 ppm atmospheric.
This leads to much more productive (effectively energy dense) plant life, which megafauna could actually sustain itself on. This is how you get mammals like mammoths.
And if you go further in time, you go to a period where plants were so efficient, that they increased O2 levels as well. Which lead to even larger megafauna that had both access to very

Most of them had a lot more details about the wonderful tech than this fluffy article.

Most of them had a lot more details about the wonderful tech than this fluffy article.
TFA is garbage journalism.
Here is a somewhat better article [oregonstate.edu] directly from OSU.
Yeah, it’s like how I still remember all the ‘peak oil’ stories from the last 20 years that I’ve been paying attention. We were always on the cusp of running out, and then lo and behold, when the demand/prices caused enough of an incentive, they’d go out and find some more.
I’m not saying that we won’t eventually run up against limits on these resources, but for the last few decades there wasn’t much of an incentive to find new sources of lithium because you could get enough to supply the world out of a few
Right, and unlike oil there is another readily accessible source of lithium: used lithium batteries.
Gasoline gets burned and ceases to be gasoline. The lithium in batteries doesn’t stop being lithium and is 100% recyclable. Consider lead-acid batteries. We haven’t mined new lead in decades. We already have plenty now.

Consider lead-acid batteries. We haven’t mined new lead in decades. We already have plenty now.

Consider lead-acid batteries. We haven’t mined new lead in decades. We already have plenty now.
Pretty sure we see millions of tons of lead mined every year.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… [wikipedia.org]
While we get slightly more lead from recycling than from mining new material it appears that we are far from not needing to mine for more lead.
Given the rapid growth in demand for lithium batteries there’s going to be considerable demand for new lithium mining for some time.
Yes, there will be a market for new lithium for many decades. But my point is that lithium is recyclable and what we’ve already mined can be reprocessed and reused.
I believe you have a failure to understand just how much lithium would be required. Electric vehicles as we know them are not viable without lithium based batteries. There’s more than one and they have different acronyms, LFP, NMC, and NMA. These acronyms come with different performance metrics, but they all rely on lithium. No lithium and battery-electric vehicles will fail to be viable.
How much lithium do we need to keep the BEV market a viable competitor to the internal combustion engine? Much of th
That’s a pretty hilarious fail considering we’ve been using them in submarines for a century at this point.
And yet, those people knowledgeable enough to mitigate the risks still don’t want lithium batteries, and spent last two decades fighting tooth and nail to not have to introduce them to submarines.
Funny how that works, isn’t it?

And yet, those people knowledgeable enough to mitigate the risks still don’t want lithium batteries, and spent last two decades fighting tooth and nail to not have to introduce them to submarines.

And yet, those people knowledgeable enough to mitigate the risks still don’t want lithium batteries, and spent last two decades fighting tooth and nail to not have to introduce them to submarines.
And yet, everybody is now putting lithium batteries into submarines now that we have viable lithium chemistries save enough for that purpose.

Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Funny how that works, isn’t it?
Well, no. This was all highly predictable.
We actually still don’t. What we do have is extremely complex digital battery control systems that took decades to develop.
Lead acid was fine with mechanical controls. Not even electric analogue. Actual mechanics.
Lead-acid batteries store a lot less power per unit weight. There are places where they make sense, and places where they don’t. I don’t think you want to try to sell a portable electric drill with lead acid batteries.
Ji said the primary market for these batteries would be electric vehicles
I wonder if he actually said that, or if some creative quoting is going on. His own review paper suggests that these batteries are interesting for stationary applications because they’re big and heavy but potentially cheap.
https://www.sciencedirect.com/… [sciencedirect.com]
The paper says the following right at the beginning:

However, the relatively high cost of lithium and transition metal compounds in electrodes hinders their potential applications in grid energy storage.

However, the relatively high cost of lithium and transition metal compounds in electrodes hinders their potential applications in grid energy storage.
This very much would indicate that you are correct and the primary focus is stationary energy storage, not electric vehicles. It makes sense, too, since that’s where the biggest potential for savings is. Associated Press’s farticles, in my experience, always exaggerate things or twist things just to make them seem more exciting and thus more click-worthy than they really are.
What characteristics do batteries have over pumped-fluid storage for grid energy storage? I presume they are more responsive to switch between charge/steady/discharge, but do they also have efficiency benefits? (Also, you can ship a battery somewhere which you can’t do with an underground reservoir. But within a grid, I imagine it’s pretty simple to transmit the electricity to the storage location.)
$3M? That amount is like what China lends to African countries for agreeing to their terms and that’s one of their worser deals. China’s various state run companies spend at least 10 to 50 times that amount on R&D and that’s what we only know about. God knows what other shady crap they have cooking or trying to jack from from us.

Yup – Lithium is more abundant in the earth’s crust than Copper, Nickel, Lead, Chromium, Zinc, Silver and many more. The only real problem is that it can take 9 years to get a mine up and running…

Yup – Lithium is more abundant in the earth’s crust than Copper, Nickel, Lead, Chromium, Zinc, Silver and many more. The only real problem is that it can take 9 years to get a mine up and running…
Uh, you left me rather hanging here. What exactly is the problem that takes 9 years to resolve, because I highly doubt it’s a physical one?
It takes 30 years to get a nuclear power planet up and running. But 25 of those years are due to the corrupt red tape.
Just trying to understand the “real” problem here.

Yup – Lithium is more abundant in the earth’s crust than Copper, Nickel, Lead, Chromium, Zinc, Silver and many more.

Yup – Lithium is more abundant in the earth’s crust than Copper, Nickel, Lead, Chromium, Zinc, Silver and many more.
Lithium [wikipedia.org] is rarer than all of those except Silver and Lead. Also, we currently make about 35 GW/h of batteries a year. Just to make 1 year of EVs would require all the world’s known Li reserves be used for nothing but EVs. And grid scale batteries take an order of magnitude more Lithium than that for even a few minutes of backup of a big grid (we have 2 of those in N.A., yes I am ignoring Tx). What you wrote is just plain misinformation. Many think Lithium is rare because of its place in the periodic t

There’s a difference between existing in the crust of the earth and being easily accessible or worth extracting. E.g., if it will take more energy to extract than it will hold in its lifetime as a battery between all charges and discharges, it’s probably not worth the effort.

There’s a difference between existing in the crust of the earth and being easily accessible or worth extracting. E.g., if it will take more energy to extract than it will hold in its lifetime as a battery between all charges and discharges, it’s probably not worth the effort.
We spend an incredible amount of energy pulling shiny yellow rocks out of the earth, for people to wear as jewelry.
It’s quite incredible that we still haven’t found the justification to mine lithium given the environmental impact. Battery charge and discharge capacity isn’t what is choking out life on the planet.

We spend an incredible amount of energy pulling shiny yellow rocks out of the earth, for people to wear as jewelry.

We spend an incredible amount of energy pulling shiny yellow rocks out of the earth, for people to wear as jewelry.
Yes, and that is easier to obtain than some of the sources of lithium and the quantities mined are a lot smaller. Lithium isn’t rare but you can’t just do 0.00x% X mass of earth and assume that all that can be obtained. It’s the same thing that some nuclear maximalists do, noting that there is uranium in sea water but not realising it might be energy negative to actually extract it. Some things are possible, but not worthwhile. Thankfully, there still seems to be a few hundred years’ worth of lithium, at cu

It’s the same thing that some nuclear maximalists

It’s the same thing that some nuclear maximalists
We only have ~250 years of Lithium if we mainly use it for cell phones and laptops. Once you start using it for cars and grid scale batteries, you run out quite quickly. You are right that Lithium is very rare, however what you say about Uranium just isn’t so (we don’t need to get it from seawater). Worrying about Uranium abundance hasn’t been a thing since the 70s. Three reasons…One, we want to use Thorium, not Uranium which is 4x more abundant and is already mined due to the presence of Thorium in r
Extracting uranium from seawater as fuel for nuclear fission reactors is energy negative? Where did you find that? I’m curious just how far from being energy positive we are in getting uranium from the sea because Japan seems quite interested in the process. They appear to be quite convinced on this process being energy positive. If there’s no hope in this being energy positive then perhaps you should inform the ministry of energy in Japan.
One thing about extracting lithium from the sea is that it will
My understanding Lithium was one of the most abundantly available materials out there
That is correct.
and in many cases easy to access.
Also correct.
As I understand it any shortages are more a result of production not ramping up as fast as demand.
Indeed, that is the case.
From TFA, the research group will look into “anion batteries”. The lightest anions I can see on the periodic table is O2- and F-, which are a lot heavier than Li, and neither has higher electrode potential [wikipedia.org].
This means that these batteries will never be relevant for mobility applications, since Li is already plenty heavy per energy unit. That’s not to say they would be irrelevant: if they can come up with a dirt-cheap stationary battery (say in the range of 10 $/kWh), with decent efficiency, lifetime, safety and so on, it might be a good match for solar and wind plants.
Also, please note that the foreseen shortage of Li is not due to the world running out of it – Li is pretty common. Rather, it is the combination of soaring demand due to EVs and offer not being able to catch up, as no new mines have been opened anytime recently.
As a researcher, this appears to be a run-of-the-mill basic research project, with a typical budget. There is a small chance they will come up with something revolutionary, but don’t hold your breath. More likely it will be a stepwise innovation.

without relying on rare finite minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel.

without relying on rare finite minerals such as lithium, cobalt and nickel.
Cobalt is pretty rare, nickel is kind of rare, but lithium? There are oceans of it.

There are oceans of it.

There are oceans of it.
No there is not [wikipedia.org]

There are oceans of it.

No there is not

There are oceans of it.

There are oceans of it.
No there is not
You know what I like about you? You’re really stupid. That’s why you attack straw men. It makes you easy to laugh at. You have got to be literally the least competent of the nuclear playboys on Slashdot.
Electro-chemical batteries are horrible in volume and mass for energy storage. They may be fine in stationary energy storage systems but even then they have to compete with gravity energy storage like pumped hydro energy storage and lifting rocks up by pulleys.
What is getting a lot of attention lately is “red hydrogen fuel”, hydrogen produced by the heat of nuclear fission. While “red” implies a thermal process it seems that “red hydrogen” has come to mean any hydrogen produced from nuclear fission even i

Hate to break it to you, fuel cells are only about 50% efficient which means your red hydrogen battery is only 25% efficient on the round trip…

Hate to break it to you, fuel cells are only about 50% efficient which means your red hydrogen battery is only 25% efficient on the round trip…
Who said anything about fuel cells?

It is far easier to take that hydrogen and make a synthetic hydrocarbon fuel as we already have the infrastructure for hydrocarbons but not for hydrogen.

It is far easier to take that hydrogen and make a synthetic hydrocarbon fuel as we already have the infrastructure for hydrocarbons but not for hydrogen.
Exactly.

Plus you have to cool hydrogen to store it (which wastes even more energy).

Plus you have to cool hydrogen to store it (which wastes even more energy).
No, you do not. It does not have to be cooled to be stored, and since hydrogen can be produced on demand there’s no need to store it at all.

Basically, you use hydrogen to replace synthetic hydrocarbons because you are making so much synthetic fuel that you are consuming vast amounts of sea water.

Basically, you use hydrogen to replace synthetic hydrocarbons because you are making so much synthetic fuel that you are consuming vast amounts of sea water.
We aren’t going to run the sea dry by making hydrogen.

And switching from hydrocarbon fuels to hydrogen at that point can be done over a long period of time. So hydrogen will probably be the fuel of 2150 or 2250, not 2050. The fuel of 2050 will be some sort of synthetic hydrocarbon.

And switching from hydrocarbon fuels to hydrogen at that point can be done over a long period of time. So hydrogen will probably be the fuel of 2150 or 2250, not 2050. The fuel of 2050 will be some sort of synthetic hydrocarbon.
That’s the same point I’m making. Did you even read my entire comment before replying? We are not going to be using batteries charged from wind and sun to power our vehicles. We will be using synthesized hydrocarbons, hydrocarbons produced by nuclear fission. The future
We are going to power the nation by solar and wind – both intermittent power sources. And we are all going to switch over to EVs, which will roughly double our electricity needs. But there is going to be a lithium shortage by 2025? What is wrong with this picture?
Not to worry, we are putting an entire $3M into some kind of alternative to lithium. Yeah, that’ll do it.
When do we start living in reality? We do we admit the inconvenient truths about EVs, solar, wind, and other such “renewables” such as burning
Lithium car battery weighs 450kg. It has about 11 kg of lithium, 14 kg of cobalt, 27 kg of nickel, more than 40 kg of copper, and 50 kg of graphite as well as about 181 kg of steel, aluminum, and plastics.
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