Volume 3, Issue 5
March 13, 2017 – March 20, 2017
Jason Mulderrig | Will Atkinson | Rohit Dilip | Anushka Dasgupta

Urban Planning:
California won’t meet its climate change goals without a whole lot more housing density in its cities

March 6, 2017 | LA Times | Liam Dillon
To meet California’s goals for reducing carbon emissions (40% below 1990 levels by 2030), its residents will have to drive significantly less than they do now. Regulators say much greater housing density is needed to eliminate commutes that require a car, as the spread of electric vehicles will not lower emissions fast enough. However, many urban housing projects are not promising. -WA

The Grid:
Elon Musk: I can fix South Australia power network in 100 days or it’s free

March 10, 2017 | The Guardian | Elle Hunt
During this extremely hot Australian summer, the electric grid in South Australia has experienced several blackouts and electricity price spike episodes, which has raised political tensions in Australia. But this week, Elon Musk proclaimed on Twitter that he could deliver 100 MWh of grid-level battery storage in South Australia – the recommended storage value to prevent future blackouts – in just 100 days, or the system is free. Musk may not be as cocky as he appears – his company Tesla recently completed an 80 MWh grid-scale battery farm in southern California in 90 days. Let’s see if the Australian government takes up his offer. -JPM

Energy Storage:
Aquion, the Advanced Battery Startup Funded by Bill Gates and Kleiner Perkins, Is Bankrupt

March 8, 2017 | GreenTech Media | Eric Wesoff
One of the most famous and well funded battery startups, Aquion, abruptly funded for bankruptcy, released 80% of its employees, and suspended all factory operations and product sales this week. Aquion made sodium-ion batteries designed for long-range, multi-hour operation. This news has come as a shock to the battery world because Aquion garnished about $190 million in investment and was backed by several famous investors. However, battery experts say that Aquion fell because the bill of materials to make these multi-hour batteries was just too expensive. -JPM

Reviving the lithium metal anode for high-energy batteries
March 7, 2017 | Nature Nanotechnologies | Lin et al.
Lithium ion batteries are prevalent in society, but suppliers have had difficulties meeting the increased demand. This paper summarizes the current understanding and recent progress in metallic lithium as a potential anode, and discusses potential future applications for Li anodes. -RD

State-of-the-art characterization techniques for advanced lithium-ion batteries
March 8, 2017 | Nature Energy | Lu et al.
Future lithium-ion batteries will likely require high durability and lower pricing to scale with the economy. This paper reviews recent progress in characterizing lithium-ion batteries, and more specifically, methods to further understand electrode degradation, which is a large factor in determining battery lifetime. Furthermore, the paper discusses the application of such characterization techniques to future generations of batteries, and how these methods can be used to create better battery systems. -RD

Solar Energy:
Scientists May Be a Step Closer to Creating Solar-Fueled Vehicles

March 10, 2017 | Scientific American | Kavya Balaraman
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and Caltech have come up with an efficient method of identifying potential photoanodes – materials which catalyze the solar-powered conversion of water into some other fuel. Energy-dense hydrogen gas or hydrocarbons produced this way could be termed “solar fuel,” and would reduce dependence on bulky energy storage units. The process, which one scientist compares to drug discovery, uses a supercomputer to comb through candidate materials; in two years, it’s added 12 candidate materials to the 16 photoanodes which had been discovered in the past half-century. -AD