Ingenieur Vol. 75 ingenieur July 2018-FA - Page 34

‟ INGENIEUR Ceto was the ancient Greek goddess of sea monsters, and Carnegie’s particular monsters are buoys that resemble giant macaroons. They float a metre or two below the ocean’s surface, bobbing up and down in the swell and generating electricity as they do so. In order to have a breakthrough in battery technology, for example, one which can allow a smartphone to last say, a whole week without recharging, it would require new chemistry and may be even a new form factor that’s radically different from today’s lithium-ion versions. However, the big three battery producers of the world: Samsung, LG and Panasonic are not as interested in new technologies as they are in making gradual improvements to the existing lithium-ion battery. Even someone as forward thinking and adventurous as Tesla’s Elon Musk is banking on improvements to lithium-ion to power his electric cars. Lithium-ion battery capacity has continually been growing over the years, although at a very slow pace – around five per cent a year. As long as it continues to grow, big companies are not going to take a chance with new, unproven technology. At some point though, radical changes will be needed as lithium-ion can be tweaked only so much. There’ll come a time when it cannot be improved any further. Given that so many important products in the future will require cheap and longer-lasting batteries, it is almost certain a new technology will eventually replace the lithium-ion battery. But there will be a long gestation period before that happens. When lithium-ion battery came along in the early 1990s, it facilitated the emergence of the smartphone and other portable electronic devices, which really changed our world. It has served its purpose and now something better needs to come along for progress in so many industries to continue. When a next-generation battery – much cheaper and far longer-longer lasting – finally arrives one day, it’ll transform the way we communicate, work, travel and play. It might take 6 32 VOL VOL 75 55 JULY-SEPTEMBER JUNE 2013 2018 10 years or more before that happens. But when it does, it’s no exaggeration to say that it’ll be one of the most transformative technological changes of our time. Renewable energy looks swell – The Economist Carnegie Wave Energy, in Perth, has been working since 1999 on what its calls CETO technology. Ceto was the ancient Greek goddess of sea monsters, and Carnegie’s particular monsters are buoys that resemble giant macaroons. They float a metre or two below the ocean’s surface, bobbing up and down in the swell and generating electricity as they do so. The current version, CETO 5, has a capacity of 240 kW per buoy. Three of the beasts are now tethered to the sea bed 3km from HMAS Stirling, on Garden Island. They also help to run a desalination plant on the base, for fresh water is a valuable commodity in Western Australia’s arid climate. The buoys themselves are 11 metres across, made of steel and filled with a mixture of seawater and foam to give them a density slightly below that of water, so that they float. Being submarine means that, unlike previous attempts to extract power from waves, they are not subject to storms an ѡхЁѕɥѡЁЁѡѕə)ݕ͕ȁɥ̸) ɹͼ́́ͥ́ɭ́ѡ)5х䁉͕́ɽչѡݽɱ)͕ɔ́ɝ䁅݅ѕȸ]ٔɝ)́ɅѥٔѼͱչɥ́ѡ5ٕ)ѡЁаЁѡаЁͥՕ)ͽ͔]ѡȁՉɥ݅ٔݕ)ѡ́ͽЁݥٕȁձ䁵ɕ)и Ё ɹ́͡ݥѡаɽɥє)ɍյх̰Ёձٔѡݥ)и