129. 3D-Printed Solid State Batteries, Material Made Like Plastic But Conducts Like Metal, Coal to Nuclear Plants

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Show Notes:

The future of solid-state batteries could be 3D-printed | The Verge (01:11)

  • Lithium-ion batteries are everywhere: in your phone, car, camera, and more.

    • One major flaw: safety.

    • Lithium-ion batteries have a tendency to catch fire, especially when damaged or at high temperatures.

  • Solid-state batteries replace a flammable liquid electrolyte in lithium-ion batteries with a more stable solid one.

    • Potential solutions for many problems of liquid Li-ion batteries, such as flammability, limited voltage, unstable solid-electrolyte interphase formation, poor cycling performance and strength.

    • Additionally providing more power, faster charging, and a longer lifespan.

  • California-based startup Sakuú, and it’s taking on an even bigger task: 3D-printing these next-gen batteries.

    • Claims that 3D printing allows it to fit more battery layers in the same amount of space, boosting the capacity of its batteries compared to those made by traditional manufacturing.

  • Dave Pederson, vice president of marketing and business development at battery technology company Sakuu, explains that has validated its 3D printing processes and materials, and is currently formatting them for a production environment.

    • “We've proven all of the steps in the lab, and now we're in the process of connecting them in an automated fashion,”

  • In theory, 3D printed batteries could take on more customized shapes, which could change how batteries are integrated into product design.

  • Sakuu is bullish on this technology, this past August they opened a state-of-the-art multi-faceted engineering hub for its battery platform printing initiatives in Silicon Valley.

    • 79,000 square feet

A floating wind platform has been installed in Spain 50 meters into the water | Interesting Engineering (07:15)

  • A floating wind platform has been successfully installed at the PLOCAN test site in the Canary Islands of Spain.

    • X1 Wind, the firm behind the platform.

    • Oceanic Platform of the Canary Islands (PLOCAN)

    • Connected the fully-functional floating wind prototype to the mooring system and dynamic cable pre-installed last June.

  • The benefit of offshore floating wind turbines is they can take advantage of the strong winds blowing in the deeper areas, which improves energy efficiency.

    • Can manufacture and then tow them out into deeper waters.

  • The new wind platform has been fitted with a Vestas V29 turbine and stationed at a 50 meter water depth in a downwind configuration.

    • 225 kW turbine

    • Enable the firm to provide platforms for the 15MW scale turbines and beyond and to deploy them at very deep sites.

  • X1 Wind CEO and Co-Founder Alex Raventos explains the importance of this milestone:

    • “This is a key milestone for our company and for the floating wind sector in general being able to install a floating wind platform using a TLP mooring system and requiring only small vessels. This reduces not only the costs but also the impact on the seabed. Data obtained from the X30 will contribute to de-risk the technology, improve the design, and obtain the certification of our commercial-scale platforms in preparation for upcoming tenders in Spain and other countries worldwide.”

  • After its installation is completed, the new project will be tested in fully operational conditions until March 2023 while continuing to feed the electricity it generates to PLOCAN’s smartgrid.

Scientists Astonished by Strange Material That Can Be Made Like Plastic but Conducts Like Metal | SciTechDaily (12:13)

  • University of Chicago scientists have discovered a way to create a material that can be made like a plastic, but conducts electricity more like a metal.

    • goes against all of the rules we know about conductivity—to a scientist

  • According to John Anderson, an associate professor of chemistry, “this opens up the design of a whole new class of materials that conduct electricity, are easy to shape, and are very robust in everyday conditions.”

  • If you’re making any kind of electronic device, conductive materials are absolutely essential.

    • Metals, such as copper, gold, and aluminum, are by far the oldest and largest group of conductors.

    • 50 years ago, scientists were able to create conductors made out of organic materials, using a chemical treatment known as “doping,” which sprinkles in different atoms or “impurities” throughout the material.

  • Both organic and traditional metallic conductors share a common characteristic: They are made up of straight, closely packed rows of atoms or molecules.

    • Scientists thought a material had to have these straight, orderly rows in order to conduct electricity efficiently.

  • With this new way to create the material, the scientists saw that the molecular structure of the material was disordered.

    • Anderson said it should not be a metal and there is not a theory to explain this

  • After tests, simulations, and theoretical work, they think that the material forms layers, like sheets in a lasagna.

    • Even if the sheets rotate sideways, no longer forming a neat lasagna stack, electrons can still move horizontally or vertically—as long as the pieces touch.

  • The scientists are excited because the discovery suggests a fundamentally new design principle for electronics technology.

    • Explaining that conductors are so important that virtually any new development opens up new lines for technology.

  • The new material has no such restriction because it can be made at room temperature

    • Can also be used where the need for a device or pieces of the device to withstand heat, acid or alkalinity, or humidity has previously limited engineers’ options to develop new technology.

Stratolaunch's Roc, the world's largest plane, aces 1st flight carrying hypersonic prototype | Space.com (18:57)

  • Stratolaunch, builder of the world's largest airplane, flew a prototype of its planned air-launched Talon hypersonic vehicle for the first time on Friday (Oct. 28).

    • wingspan longer than a football field

  • Stratolaunch's Roc took off from the Mojave Air and Space Port carrying the 28-foot-long (8.5 meters) Talon prototype vehicle attached to a pylon at the center of the giant plane's 385-foot-wide (117 m) wings.

    • flight lasted just over five hours

    • maximum altitude of 23,000 feet (7,000 m),

  • This test proves this huge plane can indeed carry an experimental hypersonic vehicle it's designed to launch from mid-air.

  • Stratolaunch CEO and President Zachary Krevor told reporters:

    • “I was ecstatic seeing those two vehicles combined as they lifted off the runway and into the sky … Seeing our flight products operating together represents a significant step towards regular and reusable hypersonic flight."

  • The company is developing a series of Talon vehicles as testbeds for hypersonic flights that can reach speeds of up to Mach 6, or six times the speed of sound.

    • First flight for the Roc with the vehicle attached

  • If December's drop test is successful, Stratolaunch aims to test its first hypersonic vehicle, the Talon-A TA-1, in 2023.

Utility Explores Converting Coal Plants into Nuclear Power | Scientific American (22:53)

  • One of the largest utilities in the Western United States, PacifiCorp, announced Thursday they were launching a study to determine if up to five coal plants could be equipped with advanced nuclear reactors.

    • A move further cemented the relationship between TerraPower, a nuclear developer, and PacifiCorp

  • The pair agreed last year to build a 345-megawatt Natrium nuclear reactor at the site of a retiring coal plant in western Wyoming.

    • Signals a new energy transition strategy in the West

  • The first reactor at the Naughton Power Plant in Kemmerer, Wyo., where the two companies hope to demonstrate that a coal-to-nuclear conversion is viable.

    • Yet to have its design approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission

    • Is projected to cost $4 billion.

    • The plan to convert the Kemmerer plant into a sodium-cooled Natrium reactor has been embraced by Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon.

  • A recent Department of Energy study found that siting advanced reactors at old coal sites can decrease costs by taking advantage of existing transmission and interconnection infrastructure.

  • Additionally, nuclear reactors have the added benefit of more jobs than other renewable energy plants.

    • TerraPower estimates its facility will require a workforce of 250 people.

  • Ryan McGraw, vice president of project development at Rocky Mountain Power, a PacifiCorp subsidiary talks on the challenges of this study:

    • “While there are a number of hurdles to overcome prior to commercialization of any new technology, this joint study with TerraPower will help us to understand those challenges and frame a path forward with the best interest of our customers in mind.”

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