You may have heard deflation is a bad thing, something to be feared. This might have been true in a scarcity based economy, but the opposite is true in an abundance based economy. No where is this more true than in the information technology sector, where annual deflation runs well over 50%. This is a huge rate of deflation, yet it comes from a sector of the economy that generates the most robust economic growth each year. Deflation is the result of advancing technology that generates greater efficiencies resulting in ephermalization – doing more and more with less and less. Ephermalization is now impacting the energy markets in earnest. Soon, energy is about to become even cheaper than it already is, despite falling oil prices. Below are two articles you should read, back to back. The first is a projection from Citigroup, a traditionally conservative institution, that advancing battery technology is going to be even more disruptive than solar, supplanting the entire fossil fuel industry withing the next *decade*. The second is a brilliant explanation of Saudi Arabia’s smart and prescient move to drop oil prices. Time is running out for fossil fuels to remain competitive, so with each passing day remaining reserves are becoming less valuable. Soon they will be worthless. Better to make some money now while the world still needs your oil, than none later when the world has moved on to something better.
A super advanced technology breakthrough using a $50 DVD-Burner.
Courtesy Extreme Tech:
A team of international researchers have created graphene supercapacitors using a LightScribe DVD burner. These capacitors are both highly flexible and have energy and power densities far beyond existing electrochemical capacitors, possibly within reach of conventional lithium-ion and nickel metal hydride batteries.
The team, which was led by Richard Kaner of UCLA, started by smearing graphite oxide — a cheap and very easily produced material — films on blank DVDs. These discs are then placed in a LightScribe drive (a consumer-oriented piece of gear that costs less than $50), where a 780nm infrared laser reduces the graphite oxide to pure graphene. The laser-scribed graphene (LSG) is peeled off and placed on a flexible substrate, and then cut into slices to become the electrodes. Two electrodes are sandwiched together with a layer of electrolyte in the middle — and voila, a high-density electrochemical capacitor, or supercapacitor as they’re more popularly known.
Now, beyond the novel manufacturing process — the scientists are confident it can be scaled for commercial applications, incidentally — the main thing about LSG capacitors is that they have very desirable energy and power characteristics. Power-wise, LSG supercapacitors are capable of discharging at 20 watts per cm3, some 20 times higher than standard activated carbon capacitors, and three orders of magnitude higher than lithium-ion batteries. Energy-wise, we’re talking about 1.36 milliwatt-hours per cm3, about twice the density of activated carbon, and comparable to a high-power lithium-ion battery.
These characteristics stem from the fact that graphene is the most conductive material known to man — the LSG produced by the scientists showed a conductivity of 1738 siemens per meter (yes, that’s a real unit), compared to just 100 siemens for activated carbon. The performance of capacitors is almost entirely reliant on the surface area of the electrodes, so it’s massively helpful that one gram of LSG has a surface area of 1520 square meters (a third of an acre). As previously mentioned, LSG capacitors are highly flexible, too, with no effect on its performance (pictured right).
These graphene supercapacitors could really change the technology landscape. While computing power roughly doubles every 18 months, battery technology is almost at a standstill. Supercapacitors, which suffer virtually zero degradation over 10,000 cycles or more, have been cited as a possible replacement for low-energy devices, such as smartphones. With their huge power density, supercapacitors could also revolutionize electric vehicles, where huge lithium-ion batteries really struggle to strike a balance between mileage, acceleration, and longevity. It’s also worth noting, however, that lithium-ion batteries themselves have had their capacity increased by 10 times thanks to the addition of graphene. Either way, then, graphene seems like it will play a major role in the future of electronics.