The most important chart in energy

The modern centralized method of energy generation and distribution is inherently inefficient, and that state is embodied by a little known chart. It’s also this chart which could show just how efficient the energy grid could be with distributed energy storage and technology.

Reducing the charge times for lithium-ion batteries

Engineers at the University of California San Diego are working on a charging algorithm that they say could cut lithium ion battery charging times in half. The algorithms allow researchers to estimate where in the battery lithium ion particles are at any one time, allowing charge to be optimized. The engineers are sharing a $9.6 billion grant from the DOE with auto parts supplier Bosch, and battery manufacturer Cobasys.

Researchers estimate that the improved charge times could reduce cost by about 25 percent. Lithium ion batteries tend to power pure EVs like the Tesla Model S while plug-ins like the Toyota Prius use a nickel-metal hydride pack. And it’s the all electric cars that need improvements in charge times because they theoretically would need a quick charge while road tripping or even at home.

Finally, the research shows a larger trend in power management. While the typical focus is on electrochemical improvements to advance battery technology, more thought is being given to how we might better the algorithms and monitoring software to improve charge times, battery life cycle, and even network batteries across distributed networks.

A battery breakthrough that focuses on the building blocks

If battery makers could enhance just the basic electrolyte — the guts of the battery — it could provide a major breakthrough for batteries. That’s what a year-and-a-half-old startup called Boulder Ionics is trying to do.

When will LTE stop sucking (your battery)?

Your LTE phone is just as adept at eating battery power as it is at eating bandwidth. Last week, I wrote about the many ways that LTE devices are far more power hungry than their 3G predecessors. Now let’s look at what’s being doing about it.

Opportunities for the future of batteries

There are hundreds of startups, massive battery conglomerates and university labs that are trying to push the battery envelope and create as much power at the lowest cost for these little energy storage devices. Here’s some details from my GigaOM Pro report.

Future gadget batteries could last 10 times longer

Batteries continue to be the bane of mobile devices, but research done at Northwestern University could change that, with longer-lasting batteries that charge in minutes, not hours. Imagine a battery that lasts 10 times longer than today’s power packs with a 15-minute recharge time!

A123 Systems hooks into China’s grid

Only 72 percent of China’s wind-power sources are connected to its grid — meaning there’s a good deal of wind turbines that are spinning that aren’t providing usable clean power. Battery maker A123 Systems hopes its first deal in China can help with that problem.