Building a Better Battery

In an earlier post, we talked about how batteries could help to integrate renewable resources like wind and solar energy into the power system.

In another twist on this, Oregon Public Broadcasting is reporting on an unusual partnership between a high-tech battery company and a company that freeze-dries peas.

What's the connection? A new technology for creating a smaller and much more efficient battery involves freeze drying. And Oregon Freeze Dry, which freeze dries peas, is extremely good at this key process.

The $21 million factory in Albany, Oregon plans to produce a high quality carbon to make ultracapacitors that will be used in electric cars.

Gerry Langler with Oregon Venture Partners, one of the financial backers of the project, describes how they would work:
If you have a hybrid car are using your braking power to recharge the batteries. The problem is that the power generated when you brake is so high the battery can't take it fast enough. So you don't actually get the benefit of all that potential energy from the braking process. But if you had an ultracapacitor sitting between your brake and your battery, the ultracapacitor could grab that power really fast, and then slowly feed it to the battery in a way that the battery could accept it.

It's another example of how technology is improving efficiencies in well-known applications.