First Semisolid Lithium Batteries to Debut This Year, in Drones

SolidEnergy Systems will start with drones and aims to have its lithium batteries in electric vehicles after 2021

4 min read
Photo: SolidEnergy Systems
Ready-Made: SolidEnergy says its new batteries can be manufactured with existing equipment.
Photo: SolidEnergy Systems

Lithium-ion batteries boast a powerful blend of energy capacity and long cycle life. But they have a dangerous tendency to burst into flames, leading to injuries, product recalls, and flight bans.

Researchers have touted solid-state lithium batteries as a safer alternative. These devices swap out flammable liquid electrolytes for an inert solid such as plastic or ceramic. But researchers have pursued solid-state battery technology for decades without coming up with any products.

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How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid

The rules of the Internet can also balance electricity supply and demand

13 min read
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How to Prevent Blackouts by Packetizing the Power Grid
Dan Page
DarkBlue1

Bad things happen when demand outstrips supply. We learned that lesson too well at the start of the pandemic, when demand for toilet paper, disinfecting wipes, masks, and ventilators outstripped the available supply. Today, chip shortages continue to disrupt the consumer electronics, automobile, and other sectors. Clearly, balancing the supply and demand of goods is critical for a stable, normal, functional society.

That need for balance is true of electric power grids, too. We got a heartrending reminder of this fact in February 2021, when Texas experienced an unprecedented and deadly winter freeze. Spiking demand for electric heat collided with supply problems created by frozen natural-gas equipment and below-average wind-power production. The resulting imbalance left more than 2 million households without power for days, caused at least 210 deaths, and led to economic losses of up to US $130 billion.

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