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23 September 2014

Learning about Batteries

Battery is one of those innovations that have brought a major revolution to our civilization. It is the battery that dictates the speed of mobility which makes this source of energy so important that any upgrade leads to the opportunities to bring new products in the market. The more they improve the battery the more freedom we will have.

The engineers also managed to come up with energy efficient mobile equipment besides packing in more energy in the batteries. Although these features serves the purpose of ensuring longer run times, but are counteracted through the demand for more power and other features. So at the end of the day, you will have the similar run time but better performance.

It is to be mentioned that the batteries haven’t advanced as much as microelectronics and in the last couple of decades, only about 8 to 10 percent of capacity has been added to them. This is the far cry from the Moor’s law which states that the number of transistors should be doubled in the integrated circuit in every two years. But it took about ten years for the capacity of lithium-ion to double the capacity. So seems like we are not making enough progress in comparison with the demand.

It is also important for the battery manufacturers to emphasize on safety by improving the methods they use for making batteries besides focusing on enhancing the capacity. We have seen the recall of millions of lithium-cobalt packs caused by the thermal runaway in the recent times which should be a warning regarding the possible dangers associated with packing up excessive energy in a tiny package. Improved manufacturing methods should make sure that we will never have to see such recalls again in the future. The industry is looking at a generation of Li-ion batteries that are designed to last for a long time. One of the primary features of these batteries is that they come with lower specific energy in comparison with the portable electronics and are now becoming high in demand for electronic power-train vehicles.

People usually prefer a small, safe, clean and cheap package filled with inexhaustible pool of energy- a demand that is fulfilled partially by the manufacturers so far. There will always be limitations in terms of durability and capacity for batteries as long as they function based on electro-chemical process. In order to fulfill the massive demand of mobile power, we will need a new storage system and it can be fuel cell, lithium-air or some other completely new form of power generator like the atomic fusion. However this may not happen in the near future.

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