April 28, 2013

Is Lithium-ion the Ideal Battery?

For many years, nickel-cadmium had been the only suitable battery for portable equipment from wireless communications to mobile computing. Nickel-metal-hydride and lithium-ion emerged in the early 1990s, fighting nose-to-nose to gain customer’s acceptance.  Today, lithium-ion is the fastest growing and most promising battery chemistry.

The lithium-ion battery

Pioneer work with the lithium battery began in 1912 under G.N. Lewis but it was not until the early 1970s when the first non-rechargeable lithium batteries became commercially available.  Lithium is the lightest of all metals, has the greatest electrochemical potential and provides the largest energy density for weight.

Attempts to develop rechargeable lithium batteries failed due to safety problems. Because of the inherent instability of lithium metal, especially during charging, research shifted to a non-metallic lithium battery using lithium ions. Although slightly lower in energy density than lithium metal, lithium-ion is safe, provided certain precautions are met when charging and discharging. In 1991, the Sony Corporation commercialized the first lithium-ion battery. Other manufacturers followed suit.

The energy density of lithium-ion is typically twice that of the standard nickel-cadmium. There is potential for higher energy densities. The load characteristics are reasonably good and behave similarly to nickel-cadmium in terms of discharge. The high cell voltage of 3.6 volts allows battery pack designs with only one cell. Most of today’s mobile phones run on a single cell. A nickel-based pack would require three 1.2-volt cells connected in series.

Lithium-ion is a low maintenance battery, an advantage that most other chemistries cannot claim. There is no memory and no scheduled cycling is required to prolong the battery’s life. In addition, the self-discharge is less than half compared to nickel-cadmium, making lithium-ion well suited for modern fuel gauge applications. Lithium-ion cells cause little harm when disposed.

Despite its overall advantages, lithium-ion has its drawbacks. It is fragile and requires a protection circuit to maintain safe operation. Built into each pack, the protection circuit limits the peak voltage of each cell during charge and prevents the cell voltage from dropping too low on discharge. In addition, the cell temperature is monitored to prevent temperature extremes. The maximum charge and discharge current on most packs are is limited to between 1C and 2C. With these precautions in place, the possibility of metallic lithium plating occurring due to overcharge is virtually eliminated.

Aging is a concern with most lithium-ion batteries and many manufacturers remain silent about this issue. Some capacity deterioration is noticeable after one year, whether the battery is in use or not. The battery frequently fails after two or three years. It should be noted that other chemistries also have age-related degenerative effects. This is especially true for nickel-metal-hydride if exposed to high ambient temperatures. At the same time, lithium-ion packs are known to have served for five years in some applications.

Manufacturers are constantly improving lithium-ion. New and enhanced chemical combinations are introduced every six months or so. With such rapid progress, it is difficult to assess how well the revised battery will age.

Storage in a cool place slows the aging process of lithium-ion (and other chemistries). Manufacturers recommend storage temperatures of 15°C (59°F). In addition, the battery should be partially charged during storage. The manufacturer recommends a 40% charge.

The most economical lithium-ion battery in terms of cost-to-energy ratio is the cylindrical 18650 (size is 18mm x 65.2mm). This cell is used for mobile computing and other applications that do not demand ultra-thin geometry. If a slim pack is required, the prismatic lithium-ion cell is the best choice. These cells come at a higher cost in terms of stored energy.


  • High energy density – potential for yet higher capacities.
  • Does not need prolonged priming when new. One regular charge is all that’s needed.
  • Relatively low self-discharge – self-discharge is less than half that of nickel-based batteries.
  • Low Maintenance – no periodic discharge is needed; there is no memory.
  • Specialty cells can provide very high current to applications such as power tools.


  • Requires protection circuit to maintain voltage and current within safe limits.
  • Subject to aging, even if not in use – storage in a cool place at 40% charge reduces the aging effect.
  • Transportation restrictions – shipment of larger quantities may be subject to regulatory control. This restriction does not apply to personal carry-on batteries.
  • Expensive to manufacture – about 40 percent higher in cost than nickel-cadmium.
  • Not fully mature – metals and chemicals are changing on a continuing basis.

Graphics for the slide presentation that follows were furnished by Charles Murray, Senior Technical Editor for “Design News”.

Let’s take a tour through existing uses for lithium-ion battery technology to see what technology is currently being applied.

  • Engineers of Nissan’s Leaf, which made its debut in 2010, wanted their car to have a battery that wouldn’t lessen valuable rear-seat space. Instead of placing the lithium-ion batteries in the back seat and trunk, they created a 24-kWh pack that resides under the floor.  You can see that application with the JPEG given below.  The issue I have with this design is maintenance and possible replacement.  You must be able to get to the assembly without excessive time for repairs and replacement.   (Source: Nissan)

Nissan Leaf


The Leaf’s 480-lb battery pack is made up of 48 stackable lithium-ion modules.  This is considerable weight and probably means a reduction in weight for other structures.   Composite materials which are lighter but just as strong as steel are being used for total weight reduction.   (Source: Nissan)

480 Pound Battery Pack


  • In 2011, Apple’s MacBook Air used lithium polymer batteries to achieve its 0.67-inch thickness.    As you can see, the profile is very thin with smooth-flowing lines, only made possible by the Li-Ion battery pack. (Source: Apple)

Apple MacBook


  • We’ve looked at the Leaf; now let’s take a look at the Chevy Volt battery system.   The Chevy Volt, which reached production late in 2010, uses a familiar T-shaped battery pack that stores about 16 kWh of energy.   (Source: GM)

Chevy Volt


GM engineers beefed up the battery safety cage to help the Volt resist the kinds of forces seen in NHTSA’s side pole crash test, added a new sensor to monitor coolant levels, and placed a tamper-resistant bracket atop the coolant reservoir.

GM Volt


  • Introduced in October 2011, Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner was among the first to employ lithium-ion batteries for auxiliary power back-up. In the past, commercial airliners had typically used nickel-cadmium chemistries.   A fire in a Dreamliner parked at Boston’s Logan Airport drew attention to Boeing’s lithium-ion batteries in January 2013. Using data from the Boeing 787 flight recorder, National Transportation Safety Board investigators determined that the cause of the lithium-ion battery fire was short circuit in one of the battery’s eight cells, which led to a thermal runaway condition.   (Source: NTSB)



Battery Fire


  • More traditional batteries are made by Panasonic.   In 2011, Panasonic introduced its NCR18650A lithium-ion batteries. Offering a capacity of 3.1 A-h, the batteries were targeted at handheld devices. (Source: Panasonic)

Panasonic D Cell Batteries


  • Ford’s five-passenger Focus Electric, which reached production in 2012, employs a 23-kWh lithium-ion battery pack. Using a fast-charging scheme, it can be recharged in three to four hours at 240V.  (Source: Ford Motor)

Ford Focus


  • In 2012, start-up Envia Systems said they created a lithium-ion battery that offers three times as much energy as conventional lithium-ion, at half the cost.  (Source: Envia Systems)



  • In 2008, Tesla Motors introduced its all-electric two-seat Roadster, which used more than 6,800 lithium-ion cells in an aluminum-enclosed 990-lb package. Inside the pack, cells were organized into 11 modules, with each containing their own control board and microprocessor. Total capacity of the battery was 53 kWh. (Source: Tesla Motors)



This has been a very quick slide show but will demonstrate why Lithium-Ion technology is important and probably will be with us for the foreseeable future.  I definitely will keep you updated relative to this important field of science.  Hope you enjoyed the posting and I certainly look forward to your comments.


April 27, 2013

Statistics given below for each country were provided by:  The Calvary Chapel-Chattanooga, CIA World Factbook and the United Nations Commission on Global Human Trafficking.



  • More than 80,000 Romanian children live in institutions or exist in foster care families?
  • Approximately 9,000 babies are deserted each year in Romania.
  • Romania has a 22 % unemployment rate.
  •  22.2% of the population lives below the poverty line.


  • Zimbabwe loses approximately five million dollars ($5,000,000) daily as a result of governmental corruption.
  • Zimbabwe has the largest shrinking economy outside any war zone.
  • More than seventy (70) children become orphans every day in Zimbabwe.
  • The life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 51.82 years.
  • Unemployment rate is 95 %
  •  68% of the population lives below the poverty line.


  • More than a third of the population of the Dominican Republic lives in abject poverty.
  •  The unemployment rate for 16 to 24 year old individuals is 30.3%.  Total population rate is 14.7%.
  • The infant mortality rate in the DR is 21.3 deaths per 1,000 people.


  • Human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world today.   Each year, nearly two million children are exploited in global sex trade. (UNICEF).
  • Estimates indicate that 2.5 million people are forced into sexual exploitation at any given time.
  • The majority of victims are between the ages of 18 and 24.
  • 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.  43% of these children are forced into commercial sexual exploitation of whom 98% are female.
  • The estimated global annual profit from the sex trade is $31.6 billion USD.
  • For every 800 people trafficked, there is only 1 conviction.




Calvary Chapel of Chattanooga, Tennessee has for the past two years sponsored a 5K fun run specifically for the purpose of raising money to support efforts designed to mitigate the conditions you see above.    All of the money raised is directed to institutions dedicated to bringing about lessening of the suffering evident within the countries mentioned, plus helping to solve the huge problem of human trafficking.  This run is called:  FREEDOM RUN.  The banner below announced event.

Freedom Run Banner


This is the second year for the 5K and even though in it’s infancy, the number of participants has grown approximately 25 % from the 2012 initiation.     The number of companies willing to sponsor the event has increased significantly also.   My company jumped at the opportunity to be a sponsor due to the mission and purpose.   The Freedom Run is held at The Lula Lake Land Trust on Lookout Mountain, Georgia.   The course is absolutely one of the most scenic routes in the southeast with breathtaking views of the falls and the valley below.  That will be very evident when we take a look at the JPEGs which follow.

As you might expect, any event such as this requires very careful and continuous planning lasting for months on end.  There are never-ending details to attend to so health, safety and sanitary conditions are met for the runners.  Water stations, port-a-potties, EMTs available just in case injuries occur, nutrients for the runners, i.e. oranges, bananas, nuts, etc etc.  You get the picture.  One of the organizers for this event is Rachel Reeves.   Rachel and her husband Todd are shown below.

Todd and Rachel


You are looking at two of the finest people on the planet.   Extremely well organized and fully equipped to execute an event such as this.  Rachel was a member of the team that worked tirelessly and planned this second year 5K.  She and her team deserve tremendous credit for taking care of the big stuff as well as the ever-present minutia.

I would like to show you the course.  Hopefully, you will agree the scenery is really spectacular.

Rocky Wall


As you can see, the trail is definitely a challenge with rock walls lining the right side of the first mile.   Dirt path all the way.  Please note the jackets most are wearing.  At 0830 hours, the temperature on Lookout Mountain was a very brisk 34 degrees.   It had rained the night before so the paths were soaked and presented an additional challenge.  The course this year was altered somewhat so runners could get a better look at the falls.  You must agree, the view is inspiring.

Large Falls


The falls drop into a gently flowing, never-ending stream as shown below.

Lula Lake River


The second mile is all uphill except for a very slight leveling off just as you enter the last stretch of the race.  The view at the top is spectacular overlooking the Chattanooga Valley into North Georgia.

View From the Trail


You get an idea as to where the trail is located by looking at the JPEG below.  This picture was taken from the trail whereas the one above was taken from an overhanging rock  off the trail.

View From Trail(2)


My running partner was Todd Reeves.  He volunteered to call 911 in case the old guy went into cardiac arrest.    You can also see one additional view of the valley below.



Bob and Todd


I have no idea as to our time but I will say: great company, good course, beautiful day and a marvelous cause.  What else could you ask for?

One thing about this race, it was for everyone both young and old.   The father/daughter team shown below had a great time, completed the race and enjoyed the beautiful day.  Upon asking, I discovered this dynamic duo had an excellent time, pushing a stroller, walking and with him carrying his precious little daughter.

Pint Size Winner


As you can see from the picture below, Todd and I completed the race.  Since he had been working in South Africa for several months , we put in a great deal of time in “catch-up” conversation.  A little walking a little running and “tons” of talking.     By the time we finished, the sun was out and the remainder of the day was actually quite beautiful.     All-in-all, a great day.



Finish Line--Todd and Bob



Come join us next year.  We would love to have you celebrate with us.



April 16, 2013

The following statistics are from “USA TODAY”, Monday, April 1, 2013.

It has been said that baseball is “America’s game”—our national pastime.  I don’t doubt that for one minute.  There are twenty-nine (29) teams in the United States and one (1) team in Canada, each playing one hundred and sixty –two (162)  games per season; lasting from early April to late September  with post-season play in  October.  Four thousand eight hundred and sixty (4,860) games.  You can see there are multiple games just about every day during the season, most televised on a regional basis.  If you follow baseball at all, you have a favorite team.  One that sparks your imagination and takes you back to the time when you devoutly wished for play in the “bigs”. Times have truly changed over the years from big-league players barely making ends meet to the multi-millionairs of today.  There are many stories of players participating in the game they love, then working a second job to feed wife and family.  Not too uncommon in the late 40s and 50s.   Today, salary figures quite quite different.  Let’s take a look at the highest paid players in major league baseball.

  • Alex Rodriguez     Yankees     $29 million
  • Cliff Lee                     Phillies       $25 million
  • Johan Santana       Mets            $24.6 million
  • Mark Teixeira       Yankees      $23.1 million
  • Prince Fielder       Tigers          $23 million
  •  Joe Mauer             Twins           $23 million
  • Tim Lincecum      Giants          $23 million
  • Zack Greinke         Dodgers       $21 million
  • Vernon Wells        Yankees      $21 million
  • Miguel Cabrera     Tigers           $21 million
  • Adrian Gonzalez   Dodgers     $21 million

I certainly don’t begrudge anyone for making money, even these amounts, but there are those years in which these guys are definitely overpaid.  The matrix is RBIs, home runs, times on base, strikeouts, hits, etc.  You know the drill.     In choosing several individual teams, we see the following:

Total Payroll                  $89.8 million

Average Salary             $3. 1 million

Total Payroll                  $154.6 million

Average Salary              $5.1 million

  • Washington Nationals               

Total Payroll                  $110.8 million

Average Salary             $4.4 million

Total Payroll                  $227.3 million

Average Salary             $7.1 million

Total Payroll                  $120.0 million

Average Salary             $4.1 million

There is no doubt that “TV” money is responsible for elevating player salaries.  I just wish we could generate as much enthusiasm for teaching and learning as we do major league baseball.  Can you just imagine a teacher’s starting salary being six figures?  How about a signing bonus?  How about rewarding a teacher for the number of students accepted into university study?  How about a 100 percent high school graduation rate for every child in the United States?  How about a child performing at grade level for every grade?  Would you pay for that?



April 7, 2013

No bigger than a minute (as my grandmother Westbrook used to say ); funnier than her quiet demeanor would reveal; a smile that breaks like sunrise in the Pacific Ocean—that described Darlene Shipp.   Darlene and Randy Shipp are neighbors in our “hood”, dear long-time friends, and threads in a closely-woven fabric that basically defines life in our small town of Ridgeside, Tennessee.   Darlene fought a very tough battle with ovarian cancer.   She lost that battle, but not the war.   Darlene died on Fathers’ Day of 2012.  As her attending nurse said; “Darlene just slipped away”.  This was a tragic loss for our small community and we still feel the pain of her departure.   Today, even though continuing to mourn that loss, we celebrated her life with a 5 K “Walk to Remember”.    If you believe a picture is worth a thousand words— take a look.

Darlene ( Randy's Home)


Randy contacted the American Cancer Society in August of 2012 to begin the process of organizing the 5K walk.  As you might imagine, sponsors were solicited to help finance the event, but most of the funds were derived from neighbors, friends and companies more than willing to help celebrate.   The director for the American Cancer Society in our region is Lisa Bishop.  Lisa did a magnificent and tireless job, as did Randy, in organizing the 5K.  The JPEG below will show them in a post-walk get-together.

Lisa Bishop and Randy(2)


Several of the sponsors are shown below with additional contributors named on signs along the course path.

A Smile to Remember (2)


There were 200 plus pre-registrants and 67 individuals who register as “walk-up” participants giving a total of approximately 300 people.   Of course, T-shirts were given out indicating registration with A Smile to Remember as the main pronouncement.     Lisa Bishop (American Cancer Society) indicated this turnout was excellent for a first year event.   You can see the general participation from the JPEG below.

Crowd Scene(2)


As you might expect for events such as this, helpers are needed for a variety of tasks to be performed before, during and after the walk.  Those helpers wore teal shirts to indicate their willingness.



Five of the neighbor-volunteers; i.e. Katy, Lisa, Lynda, Lori and Kerry are shown below.  (Note the smiling faces.)

Ladies in the Hood (2)


As you know, some ladies lose their hair during chemotherapy but until it grows back, they may choose to wear a wig.  Salon on 58 participated by  cutting hair of anyone over 16 with at least eight-inch locks to contribute for use in making these much-appreciated wigs.

Salon on 58 (2)


Their staff that day provided a great service, and to my surprise, was busy the entire time.

Staff of Salon 58(2)


If caught in its early stages, cancer is NOT the death sentence it once was.  That is testified to by the people below who are survivors of cancer.





I participated in a very small way hoping to provide “value-added” and consider that participation as an investment in the future.  This investment, hopefully, will find a cure for ovarian cancer so Little Miss Annie Shipp will not suffer as her grandmother did.

Annie Shipp


The CDC in Atlanta provides the following facts regarding ovarian cancer:

Who Gets Ovarian Cancer?

All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, but older women are more likely to get the disease than younger women.  About 90% of women who get ovarian cancer are older than 40 years of age, with the greatest number of cases occurring in women aged 60 years or older.

Each year, about 20,000 women in the United States get ovarian cancer.  Among women in the United States, ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death, after lung and bronchus, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system, but it accounts for only about 3% of all cancers in women. When ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment is most effective.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer may cause one or more of these signs and symptoms—

  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge from your vagina that is not normal for you.
  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal area (the area below your stomach and between your hip bones).
  • Back pain.
  • Bloating, which is when the area below your stomach swells or feels full.
  • Feeling full quickly while eating.
  • A change in your bathroom habits, such as having to pass urine very badly or very often, constipation, or diarrhea.

Pay attention to your body, and know what is normal for you. If you have vaginal bleeding that is not normal for you, see a doctor right away. Also see a doctor if you have any of the other signs for two weeks or longer and they are not normal for you. These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see a doctor. The earlier ovarian cancer is found and treated, the more likely treatment will be effective.

Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors

There is no way to know for sure if you will get ovarian cancer. Most women get it without being at high risk. However, several factors may increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer, including if you—

  • Are middle-aged or older.
  • Have close family members (such as your mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother) on either your mother’s or your father’s side, who have had ovarian cancer.
  • Have a genetic mutation (abnormality) called BRCA1 or BRCA2.
  • Have had breast, uterine, or colorectal (colon) cancer.
  • Have an Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish background.
  • Have never given birth or have had trouble getting pregnant.
  • Have endometriosis (a condition where tissue from the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere in the body).

In addition, some studies suggest that women who take estrogen by itself (without progesterone) for 10 or more years may have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

If one or more of these factors is true for you, it does not mean you will get ovarian cancer. But you should speak with your doctor about your risk.

This past week my wife and I traveled to Dallas to visit our youngest son, Ben.    He is a programmer, among other things, for AT&T.    Ben is a perfect host and purchased tickets for a mid-morning visit to the Museum of National History and Science, or the Perot Museum.    The museum opened its doors on December 1, 2012 and has enjoyed a tremendous number of visitors since that time.   Let’s take a look at several “bullets” and discover the general layout of the museum, then we will look at JPEGS showing several of the exhibits presented.

  • There are five (5) levels or floors, so bring your walking shoes.
    • Lower Level—Sports Hall, Auditorium, Moody Family Children’s museum, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones Exhibition Hall.
    • Level  1–  Hoagland Foundation Theater.
    •  Level  2—Being Human Hall, Texas Instruments Engineering and Innovation Hall,
    • Discovering Life Hall
    • Level 3—Tom Hunt Energy Hall, Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall, The Rees-Jones Foundation Dynamic Earth Hall.
    • Level 4—T.Boon Pickens, Life Then and Now Hall, Expanding Universe Hall.
    • Level  4M—Rose Hall of Birds
  • 180,000 square feet of floor space.
  •  170 feet tall, environmentally- friendly building that is itself an exhibit.
  • Eleven (11) permanent exhibit halls.
  • Children’s museum, including outdoor play space designed especially for children five years and younger.
  • Education wing with six learning labs.
  •  Green features, including a rainwater collection system, LED lighting and solar-powered water heating.

Now for the digital photographs:

Museum Building


The architecture is dramatic and I’m told the people of Dallas either love it or hate it—there is apparently no real in-between.  Personally, I think it’s striking and very much in-line with the architecture of other high-rise buildings in the general area.  The interior is spacious with space to house the most elaborate exhibit.



The exhibits are fashioned in a dramatic and lucid manner with stunning graphics.  I personally loved the presentations and it is very apparent much thought was given to layout and placement of each pictorial.  The one above is taken from the “Journey Through the Solar System” presentation located on Level 4.

The Final Fronter


The photo above shows additional “walls” of information describing our own planet and specifics involving rotation of the earth around the sun, the “neighbors” in our solar system, etc.  One of the most fascinating exhibits was describing the difference between mass and weight of an object.  Bowling balls were used to demonstrate the pull of gravity on Earth, our Moon, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, etc.  Very effectively done and one of the best examples of resourcefulness relative to presentations.  I wish I had these guys with me during my university days.

The fossil collection came from actual “digs” occurring in Texas.   The results are very informative.



One of the only, if not the only, complete backbone ever discovered is given above.  Texas is very proud of this one.





Pre-historic Hall


Shown above is the main exhibit hall.  Most of the “big stuff” was positioned in this hall.

Shown below is one of my favorite.

Wooley Mamoth


An equally fascinating demonstration was the world population clock.  A little frightening to say the least.   The clock gave dire indications as to what energy would be needed as our world population increased above seven billion people.   Somewhat difficult to read from this JPEG but very dramatic in showing generation capacities needed to “fuel” a planet in ten, fifteen, twenty years.



World Population


A very “hands-on” exhibit was “Reading the Rocks”.

Reading the Rocks


At one time, the entire desert southwest was under water.   This resulted in a great variety of plant and animal life that eventually resulted in fossil deposits.









One of the very best things about the museum is the inter-action possible and the “hands-on” exhibits.  The Hall of Engineering is absolutely marvelous and instructional for the participants.  There were over one hundred school-age children working with robotic systems, earthquake simulation, magnetism, structural engineering modules, communication devices, and many other demonstrations.  This exhibit actually demonstrated what engineers do on a daily basis.

I can definitely recommend to you this museum but be aware of the fact that four to five hours will be needed to see all five floors of the museum, but you certainly will be much more informed for doing so. A good day at the very least.

Please feel free to comment.  Many thanks.

%d bloggers like this: