jump to example.com

Love it or hate it (don’t tell me which, please), the new economic stimulus package “sets aside $2 billion in grants for manufacturing advanced batteries” according to MIT Review’s Technology blog.  MIT further speculates that some of the $7.5 billion in loans for “advanced technology vehicles” from another related bill and even some of the $500 million in “funding for retraining workers for green jobs” might end up pointed at solving the problem of storing a lot of juice in a little space safely.

Obviously creating new, more powerful batteries will help to reduce America’s dependency on foreign oil, but as a Toolmonger I’m more excited about another prospect: badder-ass cordless tools.

The needs of rough-‘n-tumble cordless tools seem very similar to that of hybrid and electric cars: lots of power stored in a small space with the ability to deliver a high amp load without damage — and a short recharge time with long cycle life. And we’ve seen similar technology jumps before. The special lithium-ion battery utilized in DeWalt’s last major tool update started its life in hybrid busses.

So here’s to hoping we’ll see some exciting new cordless tools in the next few years. (Now if we can just all get jobs at the plant…)

(Thanks, spakattacks, for the great CC-licensed photo!)

Stimulus Big Winner: Battery Manufacturing [MIT Review/Technology]

 

14 Responses to Economic Stimulus Package = New Tool Batteries?

  1. Grobian says:

    Yeah, let’s print a few trillion dollars and spend them on “green jobs” that depend on technology that doesn’t exist, based on laws of physics that haven’t been discovered yet. That’s a realistic plan! Pass the bong! Few investors were willing to bet on this improbable long-shot stuff in good times when credit was cheap, so let’s bet our national future on it now that we can’t afford the risk! And I know, we’ll let scientifically-illiterate politicians decide who to invest in! And then we’ll close our eyes and believe that it’s pure coincidence that all the money went to their donors, relatives, and friends!

    Maybe if we give the government enough control over our lives and our money. the unicorns will show us how to make solar antigravity units out of rainbows!!1! And then everybody will have a pony!

    When people are scared, they go looking for politicians to sell them rosy fantasies. In practice, politicians just steal your money, keep some, and buy votes with the rest.

  2. fred says:

    Maybe a new lithium titanante battery will allow us to recharge our tools in 10 minutes instead of 1 hour or more.

    http://www.altairnano.com/profiles/investor/fullpage.asp?f=1&BzID=546&to=cp&Nav=0&LangID=1&s=236&ID=9294

  3. wfaulk says:

    Obviously creating new, more powerful batteries will help to reduce America’s dependency on foreign oil

    Um, how’s that? Oil allows us to generate electricity. Batteries store generated electricity. That’s like saying that manufacturing bigger drinking glasses will help solve a drought. You might be able to make the argument that new battery technology with lower leakage characteristics would help, but we’re already pretty good on that front.

  4. wfaulk says:

    @Grobian

    Yeah, let’s print a few trillion dollars and spend them on “green jobs” that depend on technology that doesn’t exist

    Photovoltaic cells don’t exist? Solar hot water doesn’t exist? Better insulation doesn’t exist? Low-E windows don’t exist? Tankless hot water heaters don’t exist? Drafty houses don’t exist?

    based on laws of physics that haven’t been discovered yet

    Are you claiming that research is an invalid use of money?

    If you have a problem with makework programs, I disagree, but it’s a reasonably debatable point. But don’t resort to these disingenuous arguments.

  5. fred says:

    I thought that most electricity was generated from coal and natural gas with some nuclear, hydro and wind thrown in. The idea being to move more to renewables like wind and solar.

  6. ToolGuyd says:

    [cite]Obviously creating new, more powerful batteries will help to reduce America’s dependency on foreign oil, but as a Toolmonger I’m more excited about another prospect: badder-ass cordless tools.[/cite]
    Adequately powerful batteries and energy sources already exist. The catch is that are just too costly to be immediately implemented into consumer devices. That’s partially why it took so long for lithium ion batteries to be embraced by power tool manufacturers.

  7. Chuck Cage says:

    First of all, there’s no way I’ll argue the pros/cons of the stimulus package. Not only do I have no desire to do so, I can’t imagine why you’d care about my opinion anyway. I’m a Toolmonger, not an economist.

    But, Re: Power is generated largely by oil/similar products.

    This is true! I find myself arguing with the pure-electric crowd all the time that there’s a lot to answer before I’ll buy pure-electric cars as a solution to pollution or oil dependence — like how to generate power w/o oil, how to limit the loss of the power during distribution, and (certainly not least) how to avoid using electric cars as a way to shift the pollution to the countryside (where the coal plant sits) while the inner city stays clean.

    But hybrid tech’s a different story. By capturing, storing, and re-using the potential energy of the vehicle, it’s possible to flat use less fuel overall — assuming the batteries are a) up to the job, b) not so damn large and heavy that they limit the overall efficiency of the vehicle, c) can last a while so they’re actually cost effective, and d) not so damaging to the environment upon disposal that it offsets the whole deal.

    My point: better batteries definitely open new doors in lots of areas of interest.

    And as to the point of the post: Regardless of how any of us feel about the stim package, it’s now fact. So maybe we get some nice batteries out of it eventually at least. (Maybe.)

  8. russ says:

    Yeah, I want to be less dependent on foreign batteries.

  9. paganwonder says:

    I don’t know about unicorns and rainbows but those uber-nerds at CalTec and MIT, et al, have come up with some truely incredible devices (think Einstein). And the Hoover Dam was a make work project from the last go around with ultra- financial impropriety.

    Given the size of the stimulus package to date- a few coins tossed at the possibilities research might bring doesn’t sound too bad.

    Besides, think how cool the “Instructable” will be when you convert your wife’s car to electric using a cordless drill for a motor!

  10. Zathrus says:

    like how to generate power w/o oil, how to limit the loss of the power during distribution, and (certainly not least) how to avoid using electric cars as a way to shift the pollution to the countryside (where the coal plant sits) while the inner city stays clean.

    The power generation issues (w/o carbon-heavy fuels or significant pollution) are essentially two sides of the same coin, and we’re already moving toward them. In fact, a rather large portion of the energy initiatives are aimed toward exactly that. It’s becoming increasingly questionable that many new coal plants will be built in the near future; it’s almost certain that any that are will be subject to much more stringent pollution controls than existing plants (and, on that note, expect the grandfathering of old plants to go bye-bye in the next few months — a lot of old, decommissioned plants were restarted under the Bush administration because it was cheaper to do so than to run newer, already more efficient plants that required emission upgrades).

    As for the power distribution — it’s something of a red herring. Yes, there are losses, but even counting those a large centralized plant (even if oil or coal fired) is still more efficient than an internal combustion engine, and is significantly easier and more cost effective to improve pollution controls on a few non-moving plants rather than on millions of mobile vehicles. There are definitely issues for long-haul power transmission (say, from the Midwest/Mountain states to the coast), as well as for intermittent power generators (wind/solar). There’s money in the budget for the “smart grid”, which may help some of these problems, but certainly not all of them.

    I definitely agree that pure-electric vehicles still aren’t ready, at least none that I’ve seen so far. We’re getting closer though, and if the battery tech improved enough then 200-300mi/charge would be viable, which should be “good enough” for most people. Need to go on a long trip? Rent a car.

    Even so, just like you, I think hybrid will be even better for some time to come…

  11. asbestos says:

    All I know is every time I step on the brake I think “there goes energy/power/gas/whatever- right down the drain. More reliable batteries will make solar practical in places and applications it was not before. I’d rather spend graft ridden money here on research, then graft ridden money overseas.

  12. Toolaremia says:

    I want a pony! I’m entitled to a pony! ;-P

  13. paganwonder says:

    I agree with Chuck Cage- using a vehicle’s enertia to charge batteries seems like a no brainer. I hope the engineers come up with a version to replace my V-10 soon. Research dollars are not wasted dollars.

  14. Coach James says:

    Some research dollars are absolutely wasted dollars. A study done to determine why monkeys smile? 99% of the research done in education? Why dung beetles prefer one type of dung over another?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *