For [Lloyd T Cannon III]’s entry to the Hackaday Prize, he’s doing nothing less than changing the way everything moves. For the last 100 years, internal combustion engines have powered planes, trains, and automobiles, and only recently have people started looking at batteries and electric motors. With his supercapacitors and artificial muscles, [Lloyd] is a few decades ahead of everyone else.
There are two parts to [Lloyd]’s project, the first being the energy storage device. He’s building a Lithium Sulfur Silicon hybrid battery. Li-S-Si batteries have the promise to deliver up to 2000 Watt hours per kilogram of battery. For comparison, even advanced Lithium batteries top out around 2-300 Wh/kg. That’s nearly an order of magnitude difference, and while it’s a far way off from fossil fuels, it would vastly increase the range of electric vehicles and make many more technologies possible.
The other part of [Lloyd]’s project is artificial muscles. Engines aren’t terribly efficient, and electric motors are only good if you want to spin things. For robotics, muscles are needed, and [Lloyd] is building them out of fishing line. These muscles contract because of the resistive heating of a carbon fiber filament embedded in the muscle. It’s been done before, but this is the first project we’ve seen that replicates the technique in a garage lab.
Both parts of [Lloyd]’s project are worthy of a Hackaday Prize entry alone, but putting them together as one project more than meets the goal: to build something that matters.
29 thoughts on “Hackaday Prize Semifinalist: Artificial Muscles And Supercapacitors”
“and only recently have people started looking at batteries and electric motors” I think electric motors predate internal combustion by about 50 years and there were plenty of early electric cars. Internal combustion got better quicker.
Vapor driven, external combustion engines also predate the internal combustion engines.
Otherwise known as a sterling engine. IIRC they were created to drive trains, but never really took off.
Because they’d be planes then.
(sorry, I’ll get my coat)
*Lols, but then shows you the door*
For anyone who is thinking Stirling, no. Open-cycle steam engines.
And didn’t the original “one stroke engine” (cannon) predate all of the above?
The writer means that people have recently began to seriously consider batteries and electric motors as viable alternatives for applications that have previously been dominated by fossil fuel burning motors.
kicker – it was ~33/33/33% around the turn of the 20th century between Gas, Electric, Steam powered cars
I am aware that they were popular quite some time ago but I’ve never found the numbers you speak of. Could you share you source?
I don’t know about three way splits, but the different technologies were pervasive enough that California had generated statistics and feasibility reports at least twice, possibly three times since its adaptation into the union.
IIRC, the first study involved steam, electric, gas and diesel as well as two other engine types which escapes me at the moment. Sometime around the mid century. Gas was selected primarily due to cost of the fuel.
The second study happened around the big fuel shortage. Same list except Steam was not included and another engine type took the slot (I want to say jet but that might not be right). Same result, gas, despite the shortage, was cheaper and more economical.
Electric was discarded for the same reason each time, range.
Unfortunately, I don’t think those studies are digitized but you can go visit those State Archives and request the records. Sorry, I don’t recall the record numbers.
Point is, at least California was considering the use of steam as a primary means of locomotion as late as the 40’s or thereabouts.
Sorry… to clarify. The point of both studies (if I understood all the legal squawking) was to determine where to invest the money for the accompanying infrastructure, zoning requirements, etc.
Exactly, thanks :-) Electric motors have been perfect (!) for propelling vehicles from the very beginning, but the problem of storing the electric energy as dense as the chemical energy (gas) has never been effectively solved, up to the present day.
Has this been solved? I know we have *better* electrical energy storage, but can we store anywhere near the same amount of energy as in fossil fuels?
yah its been solved there are a few papers on lithium sulfur silicon kicking around the internet. The problem lies in getting more charge cycles and a longer life… The majority of what I am focusing on.
The funny thing is at 10 times the energy storage even 50 life cycles gives the battery more power over its life than a standard lithium ion.
Sadly, the useful operating temperature range of any battery is rather limited compared to combustion of a liquid or gaseous fuel, so it won’t replace fuel in every application.
No, it hasn’t been solved. The energy density of gasoline is (at least) 8 times higher then any Lithium type battery.
lol wikipedia, not even gonna touch that source.
did you even do a search for lithium sulfur silicon? One Chinese study had an initial discharge of 4200 mAh per gram at 95% efficiency to conversion with an electric motor that is about 25% better than gasoline.
And lab studies apparently translate directly to mass production?
They are not fundamentally any different than any other alkali metal – sulfur battery. You keep your sulfur molten, and it works. But lab studies don’t comment on the amount of insulation required to maintain operating temperature, the energy required melt the sulfur in the first place.
how does ~1000hr of project time produce a multi-decade lead?
He thinks he is on to something novel that will change the world.
I’ve been making artificial muscle in my garage for over two years using nylon cord. Just the other day I had it attached to a fly wheel and was planning on doing some motorized studies in the Spring.
Sweet! Let’s see your project details so that others can do it as well!
is your lawn mower that hard to start? :P
Oh, sure. “I was doing this before it was cool.” Like I’m buying it, hipster. ;)
Ask to join my project as a contributor, the next step is just that generating power from solar heat and trying it out in a vehicle.
Well hurry up and finish your project. We need Jackets!
“Here they come, mean as hell and thick as grass!”
You know it bud, it’s in the lineup https://hackaday.io/project/6825-canis-draconis-mechanicus-adeptus-powered-armor just have to sort all the technology out first.
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