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21 September 2014

New Advancements in Batteries

Advancement in batteries takes place on two fronts-improved specific power to ensure good delivery on demand, and longer run times.

In the past decade, battery technology has matured, and now there are smart devices that are drawing power from just about every source that’s imaginable. Researchers at Imperial College in London have developed a technology by which devices create their own power. From cars to cell phones and everything in between, there may be nothing needed to actually use such a device.

Even on the research and development front, it seem like interesting and cost effective technologies are still coming to light. In June, 2014 Harvard researchers have come out with a new flow battery made from natural molecules-these are the same ones found in rhubarb. They are like regular batteries but their electrolyte is separated right outside the battery cell in small liquid-filled tanks. These batteries can be much cheaper than enclosed batteries that are normally used in cell phones and laptops. They’re also being looked at closely for various power grid applications.

So, why’s all the push for these next-generation batteries not only for power grind, but also for electric cars and gadgets? Well, they’re the biggest hurdle in many energy-related breakthroughs- for turning mobile devices into powerful computers, for putting more solar and wind farms on the grid, and for making electric cars more competitive than gas based cars.

It’s a fact that significantly cheaper, but just as long lasting and powerful battery can revolutionize all these things, though developers might have to come up with different types of batteries for their different needs. The power grid requires not only low cost batteries, but also the ones that have low maintenance and can accommodate occasional high capacity uses. On the other hand, electric car batteries need to have high energy density, giving the car a light weight, and a much longer range. Aside from that, they also need to be safe for long term use.

Even today, electric car users are grappling with reliability and quality issues. Their main concern is on how long the battery will last before it needs recharging. Researchers are now trying to devise ways to make such batteries last longer and recharge faster. Imagine your mp3 players, phones, laptops and computers running for days without any recharging, or for that matter your vehicle running far longer on one charge than it presently can with a tank of gas. Research is being carried out in the west, and using air power it might become a reality in the next few years.

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