Battery Technologies For Portable Devices

The technology used by mobile devices has exponentially grown and expanded, even with this progress however, battery power continues to be a limiting factor. Most smartphones and tablets can only last for a day or two of heavy activity; this explains why tech companies have been investing tons of money in battery development. The research done has not been in vain, there has been a considerable breakthrough in battery tech that it is now considered that we are on the verge of a power revolution. Some of the inventions have shown a lot of promise and potential and have been implemented while others sound too fantastic and only time will tell if they will be rolled out in the future.

SolidEnergy

True to its name, this invention is rock solid, once implemented it is going to be very reliable and dependent. This battery technology by MIT students has the potential to double battery life on smartphones. The battery is an anode free lithium metal which is smaller but with the ability to hold twice the energy capacity of most of today’s lithium-ion batteries including Apple’s. The battery uses very thin lithium metal foil in place of graphite, other than the advantage of being small the foil can hold a greater number of ions than other ordinary cells. To avoid a violent reaction, a hybrid electrolyte solution is used in place of the normal solution to guarantee safety. The batteries will be available for smartphones this year, after that the decision to incorporate them in portable devices will be left to the manufacturers.

Gold nanowire batteries

Nanowires are thousands of times thinner than the human hair; this large surface area amplifies their conductivity. Initially, they would break down after charging but to counteract this effect, scientists at the University of California, Irvine opted for a Plexiglas gel electrolyte and a coating of Manganese-dioxide. As such the nanowire is shielded from becoming brittle and eventual disintegration. While being tested, the batteries were charged 200,000 times in the course of three months and interestingly enough, they did not show any damage signs or decreased density in charge. Normal batteries can only withstand 300-500 full charging cycles before the charging capacity drops, thus the implementation of this technology would be revolutionary, to say the least.

Supercapacitors

Researchers at the University of Central Florida have come up with an invention which can charge for a few seconds and last for a week and there is a plus, it can withstand more than 30,000 charging times. The battery contains supercapacitors which hold large amounts of energy. Initially, the use of supercapacitors in battery creation was not employed because the batteries would have to be larger compared to their current sizes but this snag was avoided by using tiny wires with the thickness of a nanowire to make supercapacitors. The wires are then given a high energy shell coating making their cores extremely conductive for lightning-fast charging. The invention is not ready for commercialization but it has demonstrated great potential.

uBeam

When electronic devices die and there is no charger in sight, most users will probably lie idle or start the search for a charger, but not Meredith Perry. When her laptop died and she had no charger, the ‘necessity is the mother of invention’ phrase proved true in her case. She decided to work on a wireless charging technology and now she has something to show for her efforts. With her technology, gadgets can be charged over the air by the use of a 5mm thick plate. Electricity is converted to sound waves which travel through the air and then converted to electricity again to facilitate charging. The charger or transmitter can be attached to a wall and the plus is, this transmitter can even be made to appear like a piece of art; the receiver is then attached to the device in need of charging and the process begins. uBeam already has a functional prototype and was expected to launch its product by 2016, tech experts should definitely watch the space.

Batteries powered by urine

This definitely sounds interesting and odd but Bill Gates is actually funding this research by Bristol Robotic. A Microbial Fuel Cell bacterium is used to break down urine and give out electricity. To enable charging of a smartphone, urine is passed into cells by means of tubes, electricity is created and the waste becomes easier and safer to dispose. Maybe now toilets will be new charging stations.

Battery technology is important and strides are being made in the area, however, much care is needed since the slightest mistake or omission can be detrimental. Case in point is the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. The phones were overheating and exploding to the point that major US carriers stopped selling the devices and the US Consumer Product safety Commission warned people against using the phone. Later it emerged that the batteries had insufficient insulation material and their electrodes did not have enough room to be safely accommodated. So the batteries developers can be as ambitious as they wish as long as safety is adhered to. As the battery technologies continue to unravel to meet users’ specifications in terms of reliability, it can only be hoped that the best of these technologies will see the light of day.

 

 

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