What Toothpaste and Battery Manufacturing Have in Common (Video)

Among the early-stage energy technology projects on display at last week’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) Energy Innovation Summit were two from the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) that have the potential to enhance a variety of battery and other power-related applications. POWER shot video demonstrations of these technologies, which are approximately three to five years from commercialization. See if you can figure out which one was inspired by striped toothpaste.

I asked Scott Elrod, VP and director, Hardware Systems Laboratory and Cleantech Innovation Program at PARC, about the company’s use of a co-extrusion printing technique for electrodes to increase energy and power densities for most battery chemistries. This concept is already being used in the manufacture of solar cells. Watch the video to learn how it works and why this approach promises more than incremental gains in battery energy density and power.

Another group of PARC researchers is developing a fiber optic monitoring system that could provide detailed information about the internal condition of batteries. The approach would have potential application to a variety of battery and other technologies, including wind turbine blades, generators, and engines. The video demonstrates how sensitive the system could be.

Both projects are supported by grants from the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E.

Gail Reitenbach, PhD, Managing Editor (@GailReit, @POWERmagazine)

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