By on June 29, 2011

Capacity, weight and price of the battery are the big challenges facing the electric car.  Researchers at Sumitomo have developed a porous, sponge-like metal called “Aluminum-Celmet.” It promises to triple the capacity of lithium-ion batteries.

If battery size is the problem, then Aluminium-Celmet can  reduce battery volume to one-third to two-thirds. Want to know how it works?

“Celmet is a porous metal made from nickel or nickel chrome alloy. The porous metal manufacturing process comprises electro conductive coating to plastic foam, followed by nickel plating and plastic foam removal by heat treatment.”

Want to know more? Full text of a rather nerdy press release is here.

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14 Comments on “You Are Looking At The Cure For Range Anxiety...”

  • avatar

    Interesting. I was watching a show on TV a while back about some engineer in the U.S. who was trying to extend battery life using chicken feathers (and another who’s trying to develop an organically based system). It looks like research into battery technology has really been given a good shot in the arm recently.

    Edit: I was mistaken. The chicken feathers weren’t about batteries, but about storing hydrogen. Apparently when carbonized they act like carbon nanotubes that make it possible to store more hydrogen in a tank with less pressure.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, I think the hydrogen/feather thing was on a Nova or a Nova Science Now a couple months back.

      My commute shoots me by a Sumitomo research facility; I wonder if those cats at that site are involved with this research.

      Either way, sounds pretty promising; if folks can squeeze 200-300 miles out of a charge, we’re that much closer to telling certain folks (like the Canadians, and other unsavory people) to kiss off.

      • 0 avatar

        And a big wet one right back at you cackalaka.

      • 0 avatar

        I kid because I love you guys, my denim ensconced friend.

      • 0 avatar

        I can’t stand those Canadians either… and I’m one of them. I have been suggesting for years that the US simply invade Canada and take it over. With the state of the Canadian military (both guys) the US Boy Scouts should be able to handle the job.

        And just to really let secrets out of the bag, all Canadians secretly want to be American. We can’t stand the CBC yet still tax ourselves to death over it. Don’t get me started… please just invade.

    • 0 avatar

      Please don’t try to speak for all of us. Have you looked beyond our borders lately? Canada is starting to look like frickin’ Utopia.

  • avatar

    This seems much more like a new application than a new material. The nickel-plating of plastic Celmet may be a new-ish way to make nickel foam for NiMH batteries.

    Open cell metal foams have been around for quite some time, and aluminum foam itself is nothing new. I’ve worked with a supplier who makes urethane foams and they provide their foam to a company or affiliate that uses the urethane open-cell foam as the “mold” for investment (lost foam) casting metal foams primarily out of aluminum or other soft metals. The process Sumitomo describes doesn’t sound very different unless it is somehow a lower cost process. Using aluminum foam as a cathode in a lithium ion battery may well be new though.

  • avatar
    Sgt Beavis

    We keep reading about these big technological jumps that will make electric cars truly practical. We’ve got carbon nanotubes in batteries, super capacitors, krytponite, etc, etc…

    So when the hell will they bring these things to market?

    10 years ago I would throw electric cars under the bus as being a huge joke. Now they are no longer a joke but they still are not ready for prime time. The Volt comes close to making it but that car needs a gas motor to be practical and it is stupidly expensive.

    Bring me a midsized car or a small pickup that has a 350 to 400 mile range at any temperature and I’m in. I love the roar of a V8 engine but I’m not married to it.

    • 0 avatar

      350 miles range is useless. It is way to much for an everyday trip and not long enough for a long trip. Only reason to have such a range is that if the battery ages and looses half its capacity you still have plenty for a normal day range

  • avatar

    Remember the “transparent aluminum” that Scotty showed 20th century engineers how to make in Star Trek, the Journey Home (the one with the whales)? Transparent aluminum didn’t exist in 1986, when that movie was released; but it exists now. As Johnny Carson used to say, “fascinating stuff”.

  • avatar

    Just like people 120 years ago said,
    ‘We keep reading about this Benz and Daimler guys and their horseless carriage, but when will they bring these things to the market…’

  • avatar

    3x the capacity. That means I can get to the airport and back!

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