Energy and Innovation

By January 30, 2006Taking It for Granted

Rising prices for oil and natural gas have had a distinct and adverse impact on the U.S. economy as the fourth quarter 2005 GDP numbers showed last week. There are many paths to building a stronger energy base for the economy–more reliable sources of energy from the Outer Continental Shelf and Alaska, more diverse sources such as LNG, whole new sources such as hydrogen, use of new materials and greater energy efficiency of a wide range of products.

At the core of all of these solutions is the ability to develop and harness new technologies. Many people just take it for granted that U.S. manufacturers will lead the way. Like most of manufacturing, it is the pace and application of innovation that distinguishes it from other sectors in the economy with new ideas that translate into higher productivity and, in this instance, more energy. One such new technology is profiled in this month’s edition of The Manufacturer magazine. A Massachusetts-based company, A123 Systems, has developed a new generation of lithium-ion batteries made with nanotechnology. The company’s researchers turned to advanced materials to boost the life, power and efficiency of lithium-ions. The company, with support from Motorola and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says that these new batteries offer ten times the life and five times the power of conventional lithium-ion technology. As reported recently, Black & Decker will use them in a new generation of portable power tools. Moreover, A123 Systems believes that this new technology could help popularize the all-electric vehicles or “pluggable” hybrids that rely less on the internal combustion engine.

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  • Eric Rhodes says:

    Black and Decker is making this battery in China if I am not mistaken. So they are adding to the US manufacturing base with this innovation.