The $5 Billion Race to Build a Better Battery

Professor Donald Sadoway remembers chuckling at an e-mail in August 2009 from a woman claiming to represent Bill Gates. The world’s richest man had taken Sadoway’s Introduction to Solid State Chemistry online, the message explained. Gates wondered if he could meet the guy teaching the popular MIT course the next time the billionaire was in the Boston area, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its May issue.  “I thought it was a student prank,” says Sadoway, who’s spent more than a decade melting metals in search of a cheap, long-life battery that might wean the world off dirty energy. He’d almost forgotten the note when Gates’s assistant wrote again to plead for a response.
 
A month later, Gates and Sadoway were swapping ideas on curbing climate change in the chemist’s second-story office on the Massachusetts Institute of Technology campus. They discussed progress on batteries to help solar and wind compete with fossil fuels. Gates said to call when Sadoway was ready to start a company. “He agreed to be an angel investor,” Sadoway says. “It would have been tough without that support.”
 

Sadoway is ready. He and a handful of scientists with young companies and big backers say they have a shot at solving a vexing problem: how to store and deliver power around the clock so sustainable energies can become viable alternatives to fossil fuels.  How these storage projects are allowing utility power customers to defect from the grid is one of the topics for debate this week at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance conference in New York. Today’s nickel-cadmium and lithium-ion offerings aren’t up to the task. They can’t run a home for more than a few hours or most cars for more than 100 miles (160 kilometers). At about $400 per kilowatt-hour, they’re double the price analysts say will unleash widespread green power. “Developing a storage system beyond lithium-ion is critical to unlocking the value of electric vehicles and renewable energy,” says Andrew Chung, a partner at Menlo Park, California–based venture capital firm Khosla Ventures.

Comments (0)

This post does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.


Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

Featured Product

TRA SNOW AND SUN - SOLAR TILE MOUNT

TRA SNOW AND SUN - SOLAR TILE MOUNT

You haven't installed a tile mount that is easier to install than the Solar Tile Mount manufactured by TRA Snow and Sun. Solar Tile Mount is used on all tile roof profiles: flat, mid, and high. It is made in the USA of aluminum alloy for strength and excellent corrosion resistance. Solar Tile Mount is built to allow more ease in installation with more rise from the tile surface to the rail for better air flow below panels. The adjustable base is longer than most allowing attachment 6" to the left or right to have the bracket in the base of the pan of the tile and still fasten to the rafter. Solar Tile Mount is adjustable for counter batten systems from ¾" to 3". The horizontal rail is directly above base fasteners giving greater uplift resistance than any other system. For superior waterproofing apply TRA Snow and Sun's butyl backed VersaFlash aluminum flashing. No tile flashing is needed on top of the tile for greater labor and material cost savings.