What’s Up with Batteries?

What’s Up with Batteries?

A fluoride-ion battery. A fluoride-containing electrolyte separates the metal anode from the metal fluoride cathode. (Credit: Karlsruhe Institute of Technology/Science Daily)

If ever there was a persistent choke-point in untethered tech development, it’s battery power. It seems as though, while there are advances each year, they don’t end up moving the ball very far down the field. And when new battery life averages are increased in mobile devices, oftentimes, those gains are in power management or hardware/software optimization, rather than in the battery technology itself.

I’m no battery expert, but in tracking science and tech sites this year, there seemed to be more promising developments in the field than in previous years. Let’s hope so. Here are a few of the recent headlines that caught my attention on Science Daily:

Nanoparticle Electrode for Batteries Could Make Grid-Scale Power Storage Feasible – Stanford researchers have used nanoparticles of a copper compound to develop a high-power battery electrode that is so inexpensive to make, so efficient, and so durable that it could be used to build batteries big enough for economical large-scale energy storage on the electrical grid — something researchers have sought for years.

New Technology Improves Both Energy Capacity and Charge Rate in Rechargeable Batteries – A team of engineers has created an electrode for lithium-ion batteries — rechargeable batteries such as those found in cellphones and iPods — that allows the batteries to hold a charge up to 10 times greater than current technology. Batteries with the new electrode also can charge 10 times faster than current batteries.

Fluoride Shuttle Increases Storage Capacity: Researchers Develop New Concept for Rechargeable Batteries – Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) researchers have developed a new concept for rechargeable batteries. Based on a fluoride shuttle — the transfer of fluoride anions between the electrodes — it promises to enhance the storage capacity reached by lithium-ion batteries by several factors. Operational safety is also increased, as it can be done without lithium.

Novel Energy-Storage Membrane: Performance Surpasses Existing Rechargeable Batteries and Supercapacitors – Dr Xie and his team have developed a membrane that not only promises greater cost-effectiveness in delivering energy, but also an environmentally-friendly solution. The researchers used a polystyrene-based polymer to deposit the soft, foldable membrane that, when sandwiched between and charged by two metal plates, could store charge at 0.2 farads per square centimeter. This is well above the typical upper limit of 1 microfarad per square centimetre for a standard capacitor.

Have you heard about any new advances in battery science this year? Please share in comments below.

BTW: If you’re looking for a good one-stop shop for battery-related information, you can go wrong with The Electropedia.

This post is sponsored by the Chevy Volt.

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Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at garstipsandtools.com.

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


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