November 20, 2010 01:40 by Jeremy
Everyone is well aware of the common types of batteries we have floating around in today's electronics: Li-Ion, NiMH, Ni-Cad, Li-Poly, Alkaline...just to name a few. However, there is another contender that we don't see around today's electronics too often, called "NaS" (Sodium Sulfur).
NaS batteries have been around for a while now, especially in Japan. Only recently, however, has Korean steel-making company POSCO succeeded in developing an NaS battery for storing large amounts of energy. Now, we're not talking about as much energy needed to power hybrid cars (according to the chart below), but we are still talking about a fairly lengthy period of time.
While NaS batteries aren't new, POSCO claims that it's NaS batteries have a lifespan of more than 15 years. If this sort of technology were to expand, and if both NaS batteries and POSCO live up to the expectations this news may bring about, then perhaps the idea of very-long-lasting-batteries in handheld electronic devices, or any electronic really, will be achieved sooner rather than later.
November 17, 2010 00:59 by Ty
Dell has accidentally shipped a batch of the Windows 7 Venue Pro smartphones with batteries labeled as "Engineering sample". With it's stunning 4.1" multi-touch display, full sliding QWERTY keyboard, and powerful Windows Phone 7; one quick look at the battery and you will notice the labeling stating that the battery is an "Engineering sample."
"So I went to the Microsoft store here in Denver CO. They told me that Dell accidentally sent engineering models to them and that’s why they were having issues with the wifi. Apparently this is a known issue with the Microsoft stores.
They were great customer service wise and swapped out my Venue Pro for an HD7 which is really awesome too."
As embarrassing as this may seem for Dell, Microsoft and T-Mobile, all batteries are being swapped out with the correct ones and any WiFi issues should be eliminated.
November 13, 2010 00:45 by Jeremy
It sounds ridiculous, we know, but hear us out. Apparently, the company Ioxus, whose focus is around ultracapacitors and alternative means of energy, is on the road to create an ultracapacitor-battery. But to understand what that means, let's go back to the basics. What is an ultracapacitor?
Simply put, an ultracapacitor is a way of storing energy via electric charges inside of an electrical field. Even simpler than that: it's pretty much like a battery, but the insides work differently, and it lasts longer. Much longer. In fact, that's one of the main perks of the ultracapacitor (I wonder if that's why the word ultra is in there).
So, what happens when you have a battery pack with the attributes of an ultracapacitor? You'd get an item that, according to Ioxus, can charge power tools, handheld medicals devices, and other electronics. Not only that, but it can charge fully in under 2 minutes (even just a 20-second charge will get you pretty far). Ioxus CEO Mark McGough, had this to say about the ultracapacitor-battery-hybrid: "What we've been able to do is take the fast charge/discharge of ultracapacitors and improve the energy density by designing in a lithium ion electrode and putting it all in the same device."
Perhaps the first- and second-generation ultracapacitor-batteries won't be as popular or as strong as we'd like them to be (it won't be able to power your car just yet), but this definitely opens up interesting prospects for the future of batteries.
Sources: cnet, Ioxus
November 5, 2010 01:20 by Jeremy
This week, we've seen two new additions to our list of "Ways To Remove Batteries From Our Lives".
The first was Logitech's new wireless solar-powered keyboard, as seen above. The "K750" boasts the ability to not only charge up using sunlight, but also indoors with artificial light. A Logitech Solar App also shows how much battery life you have left, and how much power you're gaining from nearby light-sources.
Meanwhile, thanks to Taiwan-based AU Optronics, we're seeing Logitech's solar keyboard idea being taken to the extreme. AUO is planning to release a solar-powered keyboard embedded into laptops that acts as a secondary laptop battery. It has the same ability as the K750 to charge from both indoor and outdoor light-sources. As seen on the picture to the right, the keyboard looks somewhat reflective like a solar panel, but with the letters showing as mere outlines. This touch-panel may require some getting used to, as conventional buttons are being replaced.
Although the solar-power should only act as a back-up battery, many consumers are still wondering if, and when, solar power will completely replace normal lithium-ion (and other materials) batteries that serve as today's backbone for electronics.
Source: Logitech's K750, AUO's solar keyboard
November 2, 2010 20:41 by Ty
Researchers at Ohio State University are studying why aged batteries don’t maintain their full charging capacity and lose their charge as they get older. Lithium-ion batteries are being focused on because they have been the best choice for use in electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles. The Li-ion batteries are being tested in various conditions ranging from hot desert temperatures to cold sub zero temperatures. Different battery loads of charge / discharge rates are also being tested. All battery tests are being done to mock real world situations with temperatures and load in a controlled environment.
Chevy Volt Lithium-Ion Battery Pack - GM
After extensive testing and battery aging was completed and battery capacity began to drop, the Li-ion batteries were then opened up and researched at a microscopic level.
When the batteries died, the scientists dissected them and used a technique called infrared thermal imaging to search for problem areas in each electrode, a 1.5-meter-long strip of metal tape coated with oxide and rolled up like a jelly roll. They then took a closer look at these problem areas using a variety of techniques with different length scale resolutions (e.g. scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscope, scanning spreading resistance microscopy, Kelvin probe microscopy, transmission electron microscopy) and discovered that the finely-structured nanomaterials on these electrodes that allow the battery rapidly charge and discharge had coarsened in size.
Additional studies of the aged batteries, using neutron depth profiling, revealed that a fraction of the lithium that is responsible, in ion form, for shuttling electric charge between electrodes during charging and discharging, was no longer available for charge transfer, but was irreversibly lost from the cathode to the anode.
"We can clearly see that an aged sample versus and unaged sample has much lower lithium concentration in the cathode," said Rizzoni, director of the Center for Automotive Research at OSU. "It has essentially combined with anode material in an irreversible way." (Source: How Batteries Grow Old)
Discovering why there is a lower lithium concentration and preserving or reversing the natural reaction could be the key in future Li-ion battery manufacturing to produce longer lasting and more power batteries.