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Former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu joins board of Li-ion battery company Amprius

Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Laureate and the former Secretary of Energy, has joined the Board of Directors of Amprius, a developer of high-energy and high-capacity lithium-ion batteries using silicon nanowire anodes (earlier post).

The company introduced its first generation of batteries in May 2013, and is currently sampling and selling 650 Wh/L batteries. Amprius’ technology was initially developed at Professor Yi Cui’s laboratory at Stanford University; Prof. Cui is a founder of the company.

Higher-energy and longer-lasting batteries are in high demand for numerous applications, from consumer electronics to electric transportation. Amprius has exciting technology and strong scientific and commercial leadership. I look forward to advising Amprius’ development of silicon-based anodes, advanced cathodes, and next-generation batteries.

—Dr. Chu

Amprius recently received an additional $30 million in funding. Amprius will use the Series C funds for research into advanced technologies, development next-generation batteries, and commercialization of high energy and high capacity solutions for customers worldwide.

Dr. Steven Chu is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. From January 2009 until April 2013, he served as the US Secretary of Energy. Before joining the Obama Administration, Dr. Chu was the Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Chu won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997, while he was the Theodore and Francis Geballe Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University.



This higher performance AMPRIUS battery could fit well in future Toyota PRIUS PHEVs and BEVs?

Roger Pham

The future of EV is FCV. Eventually, we will have a lot of stored H2 made from RE. A FCV will simply be filled up with those H2 and will travel for hundreds of miles on RE without requiring plugging in.

Otherwise, LiFePO4 battery today is good enough to make excellent and affordable PHEV's that can cut down 90% of petroleum consumption in personal vehicles.

Dr. Chu's pessimism toward Hydrogen during his public office as head of DOE is not surprising considering his connection to the battery industry.



If you're looking at well-to-wheels energy required, and total carbon emitted, isn't an H2-based energy storage mechanism at an inherent disadvantage compared to improved batteries?

Under all scenarios, improved batteries have lower conversion losses than turning energy into H2, compressing H2, transporting H2, storing H2, pumping H2, and finally converting H2 back into electricity, yes?

I gather you believe home reformers or electrolysis will reduce infrastructure cost and losses, but the conversion losses still seem to intrinsically disadvantage H2.

Hydrogen's big advantage is that you can perhaps store more of it on board a vehicle than a comparable battery in the next decade, but compare that to the significant energy losses and it seems like bad environmental policy, even if FCV are ever economically as cheap as improved batteries.


Shortage of electric-car ports fueling "charge rage" in Calif.

"Employees are calling and messaging each other, saying, 'I see you're fully charged, can you please move your car?'"


Until 5-5-5 batteries and even until 10-10-10 batteries become a reaslity, it is very plausible that:

1. More affordable HEVs will be marketed for another 10 years or so.

2. Affordable BEVs (with a few exceptions) will be restricted to short range city type EVs.

3. Affordable PHEVs, with much smaller range extenders, will take a larger share of the electrified vehicle market.

4. Most FCEVs will be directed towards larger trucks and truck like vehicles and intercity long range buses.

Of course, the arrival of mass produced 5-5-5 batteries by 2020 of or and 10-10-10 batteries by 2025-2030 or so will extend their use into larger longer range vehicles, but very heavy trucks, buses and locomotives may have to stay with FCs for a much longer time.

Roger Pham

Healthy Breeze,

If you only use grid electricity to make H2 as well as charging your BEV, then, yes, FCV would have higher cost of energy than BEV, due to higher conversion losses.

However, please remember that the RE that goes into the electrolyzer is a lot cheaper than putting the same RE thru the grid to end up in your charging socket in your garage. FCV may require 1.5-2x the energy WTW than BEV, however, the RE that goes directly into the electrolyzer is only 0.5-0.75 the cost of RE grid electricity. So, cost-wise, the energy cost of BEV and FCV are quite comparable.

Remember that there is no energy shortage. We're awashed in energy around us. The sun shines everyday except for cloudy days, while the wind blows at least 1/2 of the time. Most house roofs, most buildings and most parking lots do not have any means of capturing solar energy that are there free for the taking. Just capturing the solar energy that falls on house and building roofs would be sufficient to power all of our energy needs. Only the cost matters, and cost-wise, the energy costs of BEV and FEV are comparable.

To have a 100% RE utilization, we will need a medium for storage of energy on seasonal scale. That medium is H2. The H2 can be used right away in FCV and home FC for CHP for winter use and after sundown.

The H2 can also be incorporated into waste biomass via hydro-pyrolysis and hydro-deoxygenation to produce biomethane and gasoline and diesel fuel, in order to triple the energy content of waste biomass, and in that way, we have enough waste biomass to fulfill all our transportation needs of today. Those who are skeptical regarding the safety of future FCV's will have the options of using synthetic HC fuels in ICE-HEV's, or BEV's.

However, using H2 directly in FCV's and home FC-CHP would be more efficient and more cost-effective.

Roger Pham

Even when 5-5-5 or 10-10-10 batteries will become available, FCV's will still be equally viable as BEV's. It is because H2 storage tank already surpassed the energy density and cost per kWh of the best theoretical battery ever possible!

FC stack is still more expensive than current battery as far as peak power is concerned, and for that, a FC-PHEV would be the best option right now. When mass-produced FC stacks will be much cheaper than it is today, then FCV's will become economical without requiring the FC-PHEV transitional step! There will be BEV's and ICEV's around for those who so prefer. Different strokes for diffferent folks!


"Charge rage":  Wonderful!  There's un-met demand for charging stations, this can only help to add more.


@RP. Energy can be stored different ways. Our current e-network can deliver close to 50,000 mega watts during peak demand hours and store many times that with many huge water reservoirs. H2 would not be required for that purpose because it is much cheaper to fill the water reservoirs during low energy consumption periods.

For trucks and truck like vehicles it is another need. Batteries do not have the energy density required and some kind of on-board range extender will be required for many years to come.

Using ICE range extenders is more or less plausible for limited short range usage but not the best solution for long range buses and trucks because you would be using the ICE and burning liquid fuel most of the time.

That is why I suggested to use BEVs for short range vehicles and FCEVs for long range vehicles.

Currently, short range can be described has less than 200 Km with less than 30 kWh of battery. By 2020 or so, improved batteries may allow to raise short range from 200 to 300 Km and so on.

Meanwhile, if you want a clean running long range heavier (truck or truck like) vehicle, an FCEV may be the right answer?

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