Posts belonging to Category Inventions Edison Would Love



Thomas Edison Would Applaud Tesla’s Gigafactory

Batteries and their high costs are the limiting factor for electric vehicle commercialization, with most vehicle companies content to let battery manufacturers set the pace. Not so with Tesla as it forges ahead to build its own huge lithium-ion battery plant, now in its first commercial phase in southern Nevada.

Gigafactory now about 30% complete, located in southern Nevada, will generate 4,000+ jobs.

Gigafactory now about 30% complete, located in southern Nevada, will generate 4,000+ jobs.

Tesla is also building battery packs to power homes and back up the electric grid. In September, the company announced a deal to supply a record 20 megawatts/80 megawatt-hours of energy storage to Southern California Edison as part of a wider effort to prevent blackouts, replacing fossil-fuel electricity generation with lithium-ion batteries.

The storage products fit into Musk’s long-term vision of transforming Tesla from an electric car company to a clean-energy company. That’s the same motivation behind his recently concluded deal to acquire SolarCity Corp., the largest U.S. rooftop solar installer.

Tesla home battery packs for use with their solar energy venture with SolarCity Corp.

Tesla home battery packs for use with their solar energy venture with SolarCity Corp.

In cooperation with Panasonic and other strategic partners, the Gigafactory will produce batteries for significantly less cost using economies of scale, innovative manufacturing, reduction of waste, and the simple optimization of locating most manufacturing process under one roof. They expect to drive down the per kilowatt hour (kWh) cost of battery packs by more than 30 percent. Check it out. The Gigafactory will also be powered by renewable energy sources, with the goal of achieving net zero energy.

Thomas Edison would applaud this Gigafactory effort by Tesla, as Edison pioneered the large scale, centralized production of nickel-iron storage batteries. Following a ten-year design and testing effort, the battery was put into production around

Here amid the sprawling 25-acre Edison West Orange complex (ca.1928), shown in blue outline, is the block-long, L-shaped battery production facility. Part of the building still stands today.

Here amid the sprawling 25-acre Edison West Orange complex (ca.1928), shown in blue outline, is the block-long, L-shaped battery production facility. Part of the building still stands today.

1910. Designed originally for use in electric vehicles, the Edison batteries went on to become used by various branches of the military, the railroads, the mining industry and the merchant marine – making batteries his most widely sold and perhaps most profitable product. Edison batteries were made and sold into the 1970s, long after Edison’s death. Edison was also a big solar proponent way back in 1910 as well.

To this big effort by Tesla, Edison would say, “Elon Musk … it’s your turn now. Show us what you got!”

Thomas Edison said, “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

Left: Intel-Edison module now available world-wide for developers. Right: The “Tommy” award given by the Edison Innovation Foundation.

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Edison Likes “Sun to Vehicle” Technology

Elon Musk has done it again with a trifecta of technology he has dubbed solar to vehicle technology. This not the first time such an ambitious plan has been tried, but this effort is well thought out.

Here it is in a nutshell: incredibly tough solar cells that can last for decades; an improved lithium-ion storage battery pack in the home; and, lots of electricity to run the home, and re-charge that Tesla electric vehicle. As Elon Musk muses … it’s sweet. And it is. Check it out.

Garage roof with glass solar panels

Garage roof with glass solar panels

The solar panels are encapsulated in a tough tempered glass, with a quartz-like coating that is virtually indestructible. The panels come in a variety of designs and styles to make home roofs both highly functional and aesthetically pleasing; and capable of generating decades of electric energy.

Tesla says the tempered solar panel glass is “tough as steel,” and can weather a lifetime of abuse from the elements. It can also be fitted with heating elements to melt snow in colder climates. “It’s never going to wear out,” Musk said, “It’s made of quartz. It has a quasi-infinite lifetime.” The typical lifetime of today’s conventional solar panels is about 25-30 years. Imagine if your roof can last for decades. New conventional roofs are expensive, so a solar roof that can last a homeowner’s lifetime and generate electricity could be very economic; and give the home high re-sale value.

Tesla’s Powerwall battery pack is highly improved from the original model. Version 2 is a much different product. It packs more than twice the capacity—14 kilowatt hours versus 6.4 kilowatt hours—for a cheaper price after installation. It includes a built-in Tesla-brand inverter and comes with a ten year, infinite-cycle warranty.

Powerwall batteries

Powerwall batteries

The business deal goes like this–Panasonic will produce the solar cells and Tesla will put together the glass tiles and everything that goes along with them. SolarCity, the biggest U.S. rooftop installer, will put the whole system together at your home.

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said … “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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Thomas Edison – Solar Powered Windows

There isn’t always enough room on buildings to locate solar electric [photovoltaic] panels to generate electricity; but what about the windows. Most buildings have plenty of them. Could solar windows help with getting more renewable / clean electricity generated?

Researchers at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, in New Mexico, reported that a thin film of “quantum dots” on everyday glass could be the key to achieving acceptable efficiencies in window-based photovoltaic systems. Researchers at MIT, the University of Toronto and others also are vigorously pursuing the dream of being able to literally spray a thin film of solar cells onto a suitable surface-including glass.

A concept for a solar window using quantum dots

A concept for a solar window using quantum dots

Quantum dots are nanometer-scale semiconductors [about 1-10 nanometers in size…compared to the thickness of human hair at about 25 nanometers ], that can be fashioned into electricity producing solar cells and complete solar panels.

A thin layer of quantum dots could be spread out onto normal window glass; and if applied properly and protected from the elements have a lifetime of up to 14 years. The processing technique for the quantum dot layers allows for the dots to do what they do well individually and also to work together in the transport of electrical charge to the edges of the film where it can then be collected to provide an electrical current.

Quantum dot cells can now generate about 2-8% of incoming sunlight to electrical energy. Traditional single crystal solar panels seen on roofs today typically exhibit 12-15% conversion efficiencies.

The exciting thing about this technology is quantum dots can be customized to absorb different wavelengths of light [i.e. think colors of the incoming light]-so a combination panel of many different customized dots could harvest energy across the entire solar spectrum of incoming light and hence produce large composite conversion efficiencies-probably double or triple the typical efficiencies of silicon panels today.

Editor’s Deep Dive:

Thomas Edison on Time MagazineThomas Edison said … “I’d put my money on the sun and solar energy. What a source of power! I hope we don’t have to wait until oil and coal run out before we tackle that. I wish I had more years left.”

Time ® is a registered trademark of Time Inc.

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