Researchers from Rice University have cooked up a rather interesting and promising battery technology capable of turning any surface into a lithium-ion battery. The technology consists of five spray-painted layers that make up all the components of a traditional battery, including two current collectors, a cathode, an anode, and a polymer separator in the middle. All that remains is a power source, and as the researchers demonstrated, spray-paintable batteries can be combined with solar cells.
Forget about snakes, shoe bombs, and stale peanuts - it's lithium-ion batteries that you have to look out for when flying the friendly skies. According to a USA Today report, American Airlines recently confiscated 58 mobile phones, lithium-ion batteries, and charging units from a passenger trying to fly from New York to Buenos Aires.
As USA Today reports it, lithium-ion batteries are coming under increased scrutiny by airline officials. The reason? When these little battery packs short-circuit or overheat, they can burst into flames or explode.
"The frequency of incidents, combined with the difficulty in extinguishing lithium-battery fires, warrants taking strong action," Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., chairman of the House aviation subcommittee, said of a Transportation Department proposal seeking to enact stricter rules for companies that ship lithium batteries in cargo holds.
Unlikely as it may sound, FAA data shows that lithium fires do occur on both cargo and passenger plans. From March 20, 1991, through August 3, 2010, the FAA reports some 113 incidents involving "smoke, fire, extreme heat, or explosion" on these typs of aircraft.
Do you know how often we hear about promising new battery technologies every year? Over 4 million times. That's what it feels like, anyway, even if we're way off in our estimation. But here's another number: One. That's how many battery breakthroughs we expect to materialize in an actual product in 2010.
The technology we're referring to comes from a Japanese company called Eamex, who says it has discovered a way to increase the life of high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. We tend to give this one a bit more credibility, if only because Eamex isn't talking about a theoretical tech that could eventually lead to the demise of lithium-ion.
What Eamex has done is figure out a way to stabilize the electrodes and prevent the deterioration of tin. Why's this important? Because it means the batteries can withstand a lot more charge and discharge cycles. We're talking about over 10,000 cycles with a shelf life of 20 years. By comparison, Apple says a MacBook or MacBook Pro battery can withstand about 1,000 cycles over about 5 years of constant use.
Unlike other battery technologies, you don't have to wait a decade for this one to come to market. Eamex says it will ship a battery with about 10,000W of power per kilogram (suitable for electric cars and scooters) by the end of 2010.
Batteries are everywhere. They’re in our phones, mice, cars, laptops, game machines, controllers, remotes, cameras—you name it. Battery technology influences the design, capabilities, and feature set of nearly everything portable, from laptops and cell phones to hybrid and electric vehicles.
Most of the batteries in our lives are rechargeable, and our more eco-aware world is quickly replacing standard alkaline AA and AAA batteries with rechargeable equivalents. Still, few people know how all these batteries work or how to best take care of them.
We’re going to focus on common rechargeable battery types, but before we get into that we should cover a few basics about how batteries work and go over common terms.
Green technology is an up-coming wave for the future, and Panasonic intends to be riding that wave when it crests. Panasonic has just announced it will “be the first to bring to the market a storage battery for home use, which can store sufficient electricity for about one week of use.”
Panasonic is building on its recent acquisition of a 50 percent share of Sanyo, which possesses advanced rechargeable battery technology. Through Sanyo, Panasonic intends to produce a lithium-ion power cell that will complement solar and fuel cells (neither of which can store electricity). Panasonic’s objective, it says, is to help us realize a “CO2 emission-free daily life.” Panasonic claims it has already test-manufactured such a battery.
Interestingly, Panasonic’s efforts aren’t targeted toward the eco-friendly markets emerging in the United States and Europe. According to Fumio Otsubo, the president of Panasonic, the battery is intended for “middle-income people in such emerging countries as China and India, which haven't been hit by deflationary pressure.” It would seem that Panasonic no longer views us as a profit-center.
Call ZPower ambitious or destined to fail, but whatever you do, don't tell ZPower's brass that lithium-ion batteries are the way to go. Instead, this company has made it their mission "to be the leading global provider of silver-zinc rechargeable battery technology for portable power applications."
Toppling lithium-ion as the technology of choice is no easy task, but according to ZPower, next generation silver-zinc rechargeables will offer 40 percent more runtime than traditional Li-Ion while also being chemically stable. And in a nod towards environmentalists, the company says over 95 percent of the primary elements in silver-zinc batteries can be recycled and reused.
Does it all sound too good to be true? Perhaps, but if it means we can kill time during a cross-country flight by watching a 3-hour flick and getting in a round or two of gaming, then here's hoping ZPower can pull it off.