Smarter, Smaller, More Powerful Batteries on the Way

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Smarter, Smaller, More Powerful Batteries on the Way

Smarter, Smaller, More Powerful Batteries on the Way

Battery technology is everywhere and we’ve already come a long way from the potentially dangerous batteries of just 20 years ago. Today, batteries are sleek, slim, and highly efficient. In fact, a simple phone battery which can fit into the palm of your hand can have a charge that lasts for 15 hours or longer. When compared to the fact that these batteries are ¼ of the size and last more than twice as long as batteries from just 10 years ago, we’ve really come a long way. However, battery technology is just beginning to unfold and experts suggest that within the next century we might have access to unlimited power sources that can fit into the palm of your hand.  And from new metals that work as powerful energy conductors to even bacteria, those new power sources are being designed and built now.


Lithium Ion Microbatteries

Green technology can come from two sources, the first being a cleaner way to produce energy, the second being a better way to preserve it. A new study by the University of Illinois shows that they can use 3D electrodes to build microbatteries that far outerform the competition for charging and power levels. The study shows that these microbatteries could charge 1,000 times faster than a traditional lithium ion, meaning perhaps just minutes until they are fully charged. A microbattery the same size as a traditional lithium ion would be many times more powerful, and possibly capable of charging a smartphone or other device for days. Making the battery smaller would reduce power, but also allow phones and hand held gadgets to be thinner and lighter. These lithium ion microbatteries are still in a test phase and are not yet being used to power gadgets, but Professor William King of the university suggests that they will be in use by the end of the year.

The technology is based on creating a lattice of polystyrene spheres and filling it with metal before dissolving it into a 3D metal scaffold.  From there, manganese oxyhydroxide is added to form the cathode and nickel-tin alloy is used to form the anode. The University is currently making these in small batches to test, and study. One of the major issues is that the battery features a single short circuit, and isn’t quite as robust or as stable as the designers would like. They are currently working on a newer version with a polymer based electrolyte which would be more stable. The Lithium Ion Microbatteries would be able to power a car, or your phone, and could be used to jumpstart your car from your phone.

Nickel Zinc Batteries Could be Safer and Smarter than Lithium Ion

Another battery technology in the works is the use of Nickel Zinc batteries instead of Lithium ION. For anyone familiar with Thomas Edison, Nickel Zinc was his patented material of choice for use in batteries, but was left behind as scientists moved into other types of metals. Now, new studies into the materials show that Nickel Zinc batteries could be made more cheaply, and with infinite recycling capabilities because they are infinitely chargeable. This means a very positive green impact as well as a reduced cost in battery technology. Powergenix of California is currently offering AAA and AA batteires with Nickel Zinc, but studies are delving into everything from car to phone batteries. However, Nickel Zinc batteries do not hold a charge quite as well as Lithium ION, meaning that it would reduce the life of the battery, meaning that some users might not appreciate the change. However, Nickel Zinc is less than half the price, and a great deal more eco-friendly.


Some studies have even shown that Shewanella bacteria could be used to produce bio-batteries. The study by Dr. Tom Clarke showed that Shewanella actually create energy, meaning that they could in essence be used as a power source. While no one is jumping through hoops to purchase bacteria based batteries, it’s definitely a very eco-friendly green energy option to be considered once more research has gone into the project.

There is plenty of battery technology out there, much of which hasn’t yet been put on the market. Researchers are working on everything from making a phone battery last longer to creating high tech lithium ION batteries for Boeing jets.  Best of all, most of it is smarter, more powerful, and more eco-friendly than batteries produced in the past.

 Other options being worked on range from 3D printable batteries to using micro waves as a power source. While those options aren’t quite ready for use, there are a lot of really cool new batteries on the market, and in test phases.

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Proliferate writer, sesquipedalian, techie, Apple fangirl (don’t judge),tree hugger, yogi, tea drinker, zombie hunter. Into philotherianism & philomathy. Love my job. Visit me on Google +

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