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What is the Battery of the Future?

Or, what is the future of the Battery?

Battery technology seems to move at a snails pace. We want fast charging, non-toxic, long life, and light weight, but can we have it all? There are a lot of different technologies available, some at different levels of development and maturity, and some still on the drawing board. From light weight Lithium Polymer and long lasting Nickel Iron, to the old standby Lead Acid, and Flow batteries, the future is murky.

“As a storage device for energy, a battery is notoriously inefficient,” notes Johan de Nysschen, the president of Audi of America, though the automaker is investing in battery-powered vehicles. Today’s lithium ion batteries hold roughly 0.72 megajoules per kilogram. The equivalent amount of gasoline holds 35 times more energy.

Are we searching for the next El Dorado or the Northwest Passage in our efforts to find batteries that last longer, charge quickly, are inexpensive and don’t deteriorate?

The Txchnologist looks at that today in an article entitled: What Do We Need From the Battery of the Future? By David Biello and I thought it might be worth a read.


New American Chemical Society podcast: Stop wasting food and save energy

WASHINGTON, Nov. 1, 2010 — Generations of Moms and Grandmas have preached the virtues of not wasting food. Now scientists are reporting a compelling new reason to follow this advice: It could save enormous amounts of energy, according to the latest episode in the American Chemical Society’s (ACS) award-winning podcast series, “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions.” They say that the United States could immediately save the energy equivalent of about 350 million barrels of oil a year — without spending a penny or putting a ding in the quality of life: Just stop wasting food.

Reducing the waste of food in the United States could save the energy equivalent of 350 million barrels of oil a year. Credit: iStock

The new Global Challenges podcast and website describe scientific research explaining that food contains energy and requires energy to produce, process, and transport. Estimates indicate that between 8 and 16 percent of energy consumption in the United States went toward food production in 2007. Michael Webber and Amanda Cuéllar, in their study in ACS’ journal Environmental Science & Technology, found that it takes the equivalent of about 1.4 billion barrels of oil to produce, package, prepare, preserve and distribute a year’s worth of food in the United States.

They said that despite this large energy investment, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that people in the U.S. waste about 27 percent of their food. The scientists realized that the waste might represent a largely unrecognized opportunity to conserve energy and help control global warming.

The new podcast is available without charge at iTunes and from ACS at ACS encourages educators, schools, museums, science centers, news organizations, and others to embed links to Global Challenges on their websites. Recent podcasts in the series include the importance of hand-washing to stop the spread of disease; nanotechnology for more sustainable buildings and other structures, producing cost-effective biodiesel from sewage sludge and green exercise for better mental health.

Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions is a series of podcasts describing some of the 21st Century’s most daunting problems, and how cutting-edge research in chemistry matters in the quest for solutions. Global Challenges is the centerpiece in an alliance on sustainability between ACS and the Royal Society of Chemistry. It includes topics such as providing a hungry, thirsty world with ample supplies of nutritious food and clean water; developing alternatives to petroleum to fuel society; preserving the environment and assuring a sustainable future for our children; and improving human health.

The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 161,000 members, ACS is the world’s largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

American Chemical Society
1155 Sixteenth Street, N.W. Washington, D.C. 20036
T 202-872-6042 F 202-872-4370

Michael Bernstein

Michael Woods


Running Out of Water: The Looming Crisis and Solutions to Conserve Our Most Precious Resource

Water is the world’s life source and essential to all living creatures. Although we live on the blue planet, only 3 percent of all our water is drinkable. Yet we’ve grown accustomed to using it with abandon – individuals consume about 80 to 100 gallons per day adding up to the equivalent of an Olympic sized swimming pool every year. By this decade’s end, when the world population is predicted to reach 8 billion, we will face severe shortages.

In this ground breaking and forward-looking book, Harvard professor Peter Rogers and former general manager of the San Francisco Utilities Commission, Susan Leal give us a sobering perspective on the water crisis—why it’s happening, where it’s likely to strike, and what puts the worst strain on our supply. They explain how water’s unique status as a renewable but finite resource misleads us into thinking we can always produce more of it. They introduce exciting new technologies that can help revolutionize our consumption of water and explain how different areas of the world have taken the helm in alleviating the burden of water shortages.

Rogers and Leal show how it takes individuals at all levels to make this happen, from grassroots organizations who monitor their community’s water sources, to local officials who plan years in advance how they will appropriate water, to the national government who can invest in infrastructure for water conservation today. Informed and inspiring, Running out of Water is a clarion call for action and an innovative look at how we as a nation and individuals can confront the crisis.