updated 05:40 am EST, Mon December 3, 2012
Research to boost power five times in five years
The US Department of Energy is making a push to improve the technology used in batteries. The newly-formed Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), originally the Batteries and Energies Storage Hub, hopes to develop batteries five times more powerful than at present, at a fifth of the cost, over the next five years.
Directed by George Crabtree of the Illinois Argonne National Laboratory, the $120 million project will work on energy storage for transportation and the main power grid. While work on batteries used by electric cars will encompass increasing capacities and charges, work will also be put into how to store energy from the grid more effectively in order to improve energy efficiency. Batteries used in mobile phones and notebook computers, while not the focus of the project, would certainly benefit in some way from discoveries a few years after they are made by researchers.
In an interview with Computer World, US Energy Secretary Stephen Chu summed up his aims with a recent example relating to power outages. After doing some calculations, using a combination of battery storage and other technologies could leave a person "80-percent self-sufficient and blackout immune," adding that if such a system existed that cost less than $10,000, he would be quick to buy and install it.