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An Introduction to Lithium Batteries

Between electric cars, cell phones and laptops it seems as if batteries are everywhere. This is not going to change any time soon. Global electricity use is skyrocketing and smart phones, tablets and e-readers are all becoming more common. In addition, batteries are finding applications in energy storage as the renewable energy sector continues to grow. Engineers and scientist have developed many novel technologies to supply our storage needs, but none seems to have established itself as the ultimate technology. Flywheel, compressed air and thermal storage are all strong contenders for grid-scale storage while lithium-ion, nickel-cadmium and nickel-metal-hydride batteries compete for portable electricity storage. What is all comes down to is that we still have not found an optimal way to store our electricity. This article will discuss the technology and potential of lithium batteries.

Until the 1990s nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries were practically the only choice in rechargeable batteries. The major problem with these devices was that they had a high temperature coefficient. This meant that the cells' performance would plummet when they heated up. In addition, cadmium, one of the cell's main elements, is costly and environmentally unfriendly (it is also used in thin film panels). Nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) and lithium-ion emerged as competitors to NiCad in the 90s. Since then a mind numbing number of technologies have appeared on the market. Amongst these lithium-ion batteries stand out as a promising candidate for a wide range of uses.

Lithium-ion cells have been used in hundreds of applications including electric cars, pacemakers, laptops and military microgrids. They are extremely low maintenance and energy dense. Unfortunately commercial lithium ion cells have some serious drawbacks. They are very expensive, fragile and have short lifespans in deep-cycle applications. The future of many budding technologies, including electric vehicles, depends on improvements in cell performance.

Technology

A battery is an electrochemical device. This means that it converts chemical energy into electrical energy. Rechargeable batteries can convert in the opposite direction because they use reversible reactions. Every cell is composed of a positive electrode called a cathode and a negative electrode called an anode. The electrodes are placed in an electrolyte and connected via an external circuit that allows electron flow.

Early lithium batteries were high temperature cells with molten lithium cathodes and molten sulfur anodes. Operating at around 400 degrees celcius, these thermal rechargeable batteries were first sold commercially in the 1980s. However, electrode containment proved a serious problem due to lithium's instability. In the end temperature issues, corrosion and improving ambient temperature batteries slowed the adoption of molten lithium-sulfur cells. Though this is still theoretically a very powerful battery, scientists found that trading some energy density for stability was necessary. This lead to lithium-ion technology.

A lithium-ion battery generally has a graphitic carbon anode, which hosts Li+ ions, and a metal oxide cathode. The electrolyte consists of a lithium salt (LiPF6, LiBF4, LiClO4) dissolved in an organic solvent such as ether. Since lithium would react very violently with water vapor the cell is always sealed. Also, to prevent a short circuit, the electrodes are separated by a porous materials that prevents physical contact. When the cell is charging, lithium ions intercalate between carbon molecules in the anode. Meanwhile at the cathode lithium ions and electrons are released. During discharge the opposite happens: Li ions leave the anode and travel to the cathode. Since the cell involves the flow of ions and electrons, the system must be both a good electrical and ionic conductor. Sony developed the first Li+ battery in 1990 which had a lithium cobalt oxide cathode and a carbon anode.

Overall lithium ion cells have important benefits that have made them the leading choice in many applications. Lithium is the metal with both the lowest molar mass and the greatest electrochemical potential. This means that Li-ion batteries can have very high energy density. A typical lithium cell potential is 3.6V (lithium cobalt oxide-carbon). Also, they have a much lower self discharge rate at 5% than that of NiCad batteries which usually self discharge at 20%. In addition, these cells don't contain dangerous heavy metals such as cadmium and lead. Finally, Li+ batteries do not have any memory effects and do not need to refilled. This makes them low maintenance compared to other batteries.

Unfortunately lithium ion technology has several restricting issues. First and foremost it is expensive. The average cost of a Li-ion cell is 40% higher than that of a NiCad cell. Also, these devices require a protection circuit to maintain discharge rates between 1C and 2C. This is the source of most static charge loss. In addition, though lithium ion batteries are powerful and stable, they have a lower theoretical charge density than other kinds of batteries. Therefore improvements of other technologies may make them obsolete. Finally, they have a much shorter cycle life and a longer charging time than NiCad batteries and are also very sensitive to high temperatures.

These issues have sparked interest in other chemistries, such as lithium-air, lithium-polymer and lithium-iron. Since I do not have time to go through all these devices, we'll briefly look at lithium-air batteries. In these systems, Li is oxidized at the anode, releasing electrons that travel through an external circuit. Li+ ions then flow to the cathode where they reduce oxygen, forming the intermediary compound lithium peroxide. In theory, this allows for a truly reversible reaction to take place, improving the performance of lithium-air batteries in deep-cycle applications. However, much like Li+ cells, these batteries suffer from short lives. This is due to the formation of oxygen radicals that decompose the cell's organic electrolyte. Fortunately two lithium-air batteries developed independently in 2012 by Jung et al., a team of researchers from Rome and Seoul, and Peter Bruce, who led a group at St. Andrews, seem to have solved this problem. Both the groups' batteries underwent approximately 100 charging and discharging cycles without losing much of their capacity. Bruce's device lost only 5% capacity during tests. The batteries also have higher energy density than their lithium ion counterparts. This is a sign that the future of energy storage may reside with powerful, resilient lithium-air chemistry. However we will first have to overcome durability, cost and weight problems.

Implementation

Though novel lithium battery chemistries are being developed and marketed, Li+ batteries remain near the top of the food chain for now. As we mentioned previously, this technology is often considered the first choice for electric vehicles and electronic devices due to its energy density. Tesla's Roadster contains no less than 6831 lithium ion batteries. Arranged into packs of 69, the cells are capable of taking the vehicle from 0 to 60 mph in just 3.9 seconds. Just in case you were wondering, 69 goes into 6831 exactly 99 times. Also, if you are reading this article on your laptop, it is likely that it is powered by a lithium cell.

The major drawback to current Li batteries is their susceptibility to aging effects, especially when heated. You may have noticed that laptop and cell phone life deteriorates dramatically after a few years. This is largely due to aging. This issue has made the technology ill suited for backup and grid-scale power. Despite this, Li-ion batteries have competed for energy storage projects with alternative technologies such as thermal, flywheels and compressed air storage. Most of these installations have been in California. Silent Power's Li+ cells are being used to dampen power fluctuations in Sacramento and Greensmith has installed 1.5 megawatts of grid-balancing lithium-ion batteries throughout the state. In addition, AES Energy Storage has installed, or is in the process of installing, 76MW of Li+ battery capacity worldwide with 500MW in development. The main benefit of this technology is the fact that we understand it well and have the immediate resources for it to work. In large scale projects lithium-ion batteries have been most successful in sites where there are severe space restrictions or minimal maintenance capabilities.

In the near future it seems as if lithium ion technology is set to continue to dominate many applications. Li+ batteries are a proven concept, unlike some other technologies that have remained cloistered in the lab. The possible emergence of electric vehicles and the booming demand for electronics will undoubtedly have positive effects on the industry. Unfortunately, all good things come to an end. Analysts forecast that the technology will lose some of its competitive edge once infant technologies such as aluminium-ion, zinc-bromine and lead-carbon come on the market. For example on the topic of lithium ion batteries in storage applications, Lux Research said the following:

"Li-ion batteries developed for transportation applications are energy dense storage devices. Stationary storage projects rarely value this metric, resulting in wasted value for grid-tied Li- ion battery systems. Rapidly evolving technologies with equivalent or superior performance metrics and substantially lower costs and higher resource availability will take over the majority of the grid storage market in the coming years."

Though they are unlikely to be used in many grid scale storage projects, Li-ion batteries will certainly play a large role in our future. Their high cost will probably drop as the concept continues to mature and the devices become more widespread. A study by Mckinsey research found that 1/3 price reductions could be achieved through economies of scale alone. In any case lithium ion batteries are going to have to fight to keep the advantage they currently have.

Lithium is just a small part of the global picture. There are currently many competing concepts in the world of energy storage, each with their own pros, cons and background.

 

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This week's World of Concrete in Las Vegas is the first significant exhibition in the United States since the COVID pandemic changed the face of the convention and also conference service. For numerous, this is yet another sign of life slowly going back to typical for the building and construction industry.

If you've made the expedition to this year's WOC, you're expecting it all-- new products, sophisticated technology, interactive workshops, hands-on training, and also no question-- the Bricklayer 500! This one-hour competition checks the speed as well as stamina to name the globe's biggest mason.

Whether you're there personally or as well active in the field to go to, we join you in commemorating all points concrete this week. Below are some fantastic as well as strange realities concerning concrete, a solid and functional material, that is utilized in everything from our kitchen countertops to the roadways we drive on day-to-day.

1. Concrete Usage is Staggering
With greater than 10 billion lots of concrete being generated yearly, concrete is one of the most eaten products on the planet-- apart from water. With three bunches used for every single individual worldwide, twice as much concrete is used in building and construction as contrasted to all various other structure materials.

In the U.S. alone, this number is more than 500 million lots. Worth greater than $37 billion, the concrete industry utilizes more than 2 million in the USA. With cement as its cornerstone, it is also responsible for 8% of the world's carbon dioxide (CO2) discharges.

2. Concrete Has Come a Long Way Given That 600 B.C.
Although Ancient Romans weren't the first to mix mud and also straw or produce mortar, they were the very first to use concrete in the majority of their building and construction. They efficiently used a mixture of ashes from Mount Vesuvius, lime, as well as saltwater to develop the mix and packed it right into wooden types.

The Roman civil designer Vitruvius blogged about four sorts of "pozzolana"-- black, grey, red, and also white. The Romans comprehended the water-resistant qualities of this new building material, utilizing it to create their port at Cosa.

Even more remarkable is the Roman Pantheon, which was made entirely out of concrete, without the enhancing assistance of structural steel. Its impressive 142-foot-high dome still stands today. It is a huge concrete structure and has actually weathered earthquakes and other natural catastrophes throughout its 2,000 years.

3. Concrete Helped Win World War II
Concrete "sound mirrors" were utilized at the beginning of World War II to offer a very early caution of approaching airplanes. Before radar was established, the British erected parabolic acoustic mirrors or paying attention ears to spot aircraft. With a network of sound reflectors created along the English coastline, the British can discover the sound of approaching German aircraft.

The scooped concrete structures were made to pick up sound waves from opponent airplanes, making it feasible to predict their flight trajectory, offering ground forces even more time to prepare British defenses.

4. World's Largest Concrete Structure is in China
At 185 meters high as well as 2,309 meters long, the Three Gorges Dam on China's Yangtze River is the largest concrete dam. Developed over 17 years in between 1994 and 2006, the job cost $37 billion to construct. Employees utilized some 21 million cubic lawns of concrete in the framework-- a globe document.

A hydroelectric station that can generate an unbelievable 22,500 MW of power, the dam's storage tank holds as much water as Lake Superior.

5. Concrete Furniture? Maybe Not a Lightbulb Moment
Did you understand Thomas Edison held 49 patents related to concrete? Along with inventing the light bulb, Edison's licenses included cement processing equipment, waterproofing cement paint, and also even a mold and mildew for single-pour concrete building.

On top of that, Edison visualized a future with concrete homes, concrete furniture, and also even concrete pianos, and refrigerators. He produced the Edison Portland Cement Company after he discovered the amount of sand waste generated by his ore milling company. He marketed the fine sand bits to cement makers for concrete manufacturing.

While these truths as well as background regarding the concrete market might not help you win at Jeopardy, there are plenty even more to pour over when it involves this versatile and strong product.

Well worth even more than $37 billion, the concrete industry employs more than 2 million in the United States. Concrete Has Come a Long Way Since 610 B.C.
Although Ancient Romans weren't the first very first to mix mud and straw or create products, they were the first to utilize make use of in the majority bulk their construction building and construction Concrete "sound mirrors" were utilized at the beginning of World War II to give a very early warning of coming close to airplane. Workers utilized some 21 million cubic lawns of concrete in the structure-- a world record.

In enhancement, Edison imagined a future with concrete houses, concrete furnishings, and even concrete pianos, and also refrigerators.

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Building and construction sites residence almost 6.5 million American workers and their safety is an essential problem for employers. Regardless of this, the casualty rate in the building industry is the highest possible in the U.S. Workers at these sites constantly need to check the possible dangers of drops, misuse of equipment, and architectural failures causing injury or fatality. This makes it incredibly vital for business leaders to establish a culture that focuses on security in any way prices. 

The Current State of Construction Site Safety
As companies remain to explore brand-new methods to raise building and construction site safety levels, developing innovations such as virtual reality as well as wearable gadgets use an opportunity to act as well as get upon safety and security data like never ever in the past. Regardless of 84% of building and construction managers stating that even more is required to be done to boost security degrees, the adoption of technology-led initiatives has stayed reasonably conservative.

This sluggish adoption can be credited to the dependence on heritage systems and also an absence of technological proficiency. To get over these difficulties, firms need methods to integrate details of modern technologies into an integrated innovation pile that can share information as well as highlight discomfort points early. Right here are 5 methods the incorporated use of technology can reduce instances of devastating Jobsite events.

5 Ways to Use Technology to Improve On-Site Safety
Rise safety conformity with mobile applications
While construction organizations go to fantastic sizes to develop safety procedures and also short workers on safety finest methods, examining involvement and conformity can be a challenge without digital procedures. Mobile applications can make it very easy to consolidate safety and security protocols such as reporting, notice, as well as organizing. Managers can make certain compliance with state and government guidelines as well as promptly identify the training that each employee has experienced.

Accumulating information on safety and security compliance requirements allows greater insight into on-ground tasks. Mobile applications that make it very easy to review participation and also the efficiency of safety activities also allow building and construction organizations to make that data readily obtainable throughout organization divisions, therefore eliminating existing details silos.

Improve training through digital web content
Current research study has actually revealed that 90% of work-site crashes are brought on by risky habits and environments. This typically happens as a result of a lack of understanding of the security methods by on-ground workers, inadequate security training, and also a general lack of awareness of established safety and security methods. The presence of security methods, as well as the availability of safety and security training, are commonly inadequate to make certain all employees are effectively informed pertaining to the relevant safety procedures.

Developing digital web content can help magnate make certain that each worker on the ground has simple access to this info whatsoever time. Digital material, when distributed via an integrated data solution, also allows managers to ensure participation and interaction degrees continue to be high during the training. Correspondence courses, as well as regular digital evaluations, can also improve employees' experience with new procedures and also policies they should be aware of.

Augment physical labor with wearable innovation
A current United States Chamber of Commerce record detailed the increase of wearable innovation in the building and construction sector, anticipating that virtually a quarter of service providers will certainly use this technology by 2023. Wearable innovation in the building can come in many forms, from increased fact as well as virtual reality headsets to exoskeletons that offer skeletal and muscular support for staff members taking care of hefty physical work.

The physical nature of operating in the construction industry can commonly take its toll on the human body as well as overexertion is a usual root cause of injury and fatigue at several job sites. The use of wearable modern technology can literally strengthen workers with exoskeletons while monitoring tiredness degrees as well as recognizing susceptible employees prior to a disruptive event is videotaped.

Preempt security spaces with predictive information analytics
The intro of any kind of contemporary technology right into building and construction sites can create huge amounts of data that can be evaluated to remove beneficial understanding. Recent research has actually shown that the correct use of anticipating analytics can forecast office crashes with nearly ideal accuracy. As building and construction equipment increasingly links to the Internet of Things, software analysis of the information accumulated from them needs to keep up.

Anticipating evaluation enables site managers to identify mechanical factors of failing prior to it occurs. This greatly decreases the likelihood of employees being hurt because of malfunctioning or under-serviced tools.

Respond to devastating occasions quickly with localization innovation
Regardless of technology lowering the threat of work environment injuries, building businesses need to still be prepared to react to any type of devastating event that does happen. Executing electronic remedies throughout divisions can often further the production of deeply entrenched information silos. Therefore, the integration of all these technologies comes to be exceptionally crucial. Once properly incorporated, the information that is shared between the tools can give supervisors a better summary of the state and area of each critical system, thus placing them in the best setting to react as well as identify to any kind of adverse on-site event.

Why combination is the key to unlocking the capacity of safety and security innovation
A vital consideration that organization leaders ought to take note of when carrying out these modern technologies is that they do not exist in isolation. The automated information circulation in between crucial systems can equip site managers by reducing human error as well as boosting foresight when resolving possible on-site safety concerns.

In contrast to a change and also dispose of approach, combination permits firms to urge buy-in from staff members, reduce expenses, as well as improve existing systems. The integration of emerging modern technologies with tradition systems can also make the shift much less taxing for employees who have actually collaborated with older systems for many years.

Ultimately, the combination of contemporary technologies with existing systems equips business leaders to develop the OSHA recommended framework of preventative security while enhancing data collection to recognize possible voids in safety early, decreasing human error, as well as minimizing instances of on-site devastating security occasions.

Construction websites house virtually 6.5 million American workers and their safety is an essential concern for employers. While construction businesses go to fantastic lengths to develop security procedures and brief workers on security best practices, examining involvement and compliance can be a challenge without digital processes. This commonly takes place as a result of a lack of understanding of the security protocols by on-ground workers, insufficient safety and security training, and a general absence of awareness of recognized safety and security protocols. The presence of safety and security procedures and the accessibility of safety and security training are commonly not adequate to make certain all employees are effectively oriented concerning the pertinent security processes.

The automated information flow in between critical systems can equip site managers by decreasing human mistake as well as improving insight when attending to potential on-site safety problems.
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