Is Zinc-air Going to be the Next Big Rechargeable Battery Tech?

Ryan Whitwam

More than anything else, battery technology holds back mobile innovation. Sure, we’d all like super fast mobile CPUs, but the 10 minutes of battery life we’d get isn’t a good trade off. Battery technology has, thus far, advanced at a depressingly slow rate. However, rechargeable zinc-air batteries could actually deliver changes next year.

A company called ReVolt claims to have developed a way to make zinc-air batteries rechargeable. The batteries use oxygen from the air to generate current. Also, they don’t contain any of the toxic materials that are found in lithium-ion batteries, which are estimated to only hold one-third as much power.

In sciency terms, these batteries rely on reduction/oxidation reactions between a zinc and air (oxygen) electrodes. By using new gelling and binding agents, the previously single use batteries can be recharged. They have been tested for up to 100 cycles, but could be capable of 300-500. Smaller batteries for cell phones and hearing aids are supposed to show up in 2010. If that goes well, larger versions for electric cars could be produced. Will this revolutionize the tech world, or is it just so much hot air?

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