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Ubiquitous nanotubes could reboot Edison-era nickel-iron battery technology


Back in the 1920s, Thomas Edison's dream of an electric automobile was ultimately foiled by those meddling petroleum engines. But thanks to nanotube research from Stanford University, one legacy from that era may regain some glory: nickel-iron batteries. It turns out that carbon nanotubes doped with nickel and iron crystals can top up the normally slow-charging cells in a matter of minutes -- according to the scientists, that's almost 1,000 times faster than in the past. Although the batteries couldn't power your Volt or Prius due to a lack of energy density, they could give an extra jolt to their lithium-ion siblings for quicker starts and regenerative braking. The researchers are working on improving stability to allow more charging cycles, but it might be an extra in-your-face for Edison if it pans out.

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