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Vanadium: The Little Element That Could

clock December 3, 2010 01:19 by author Jeremy

Take your average battery for any electronic device: it lasts for x amount of years, and you can do other things while it is being charged for x amount of minutes or hours. Now remove those years, and remove those minutes and hours of charge-time. What you have is, essentially, a Vanadium Redox Battery. 

Referred to as a VRB for short (or "Vanadium Redox Flow Battery" for an even longer name), these batteries are slowly gaining popularity because of their main selling point: they don't lose capacity over time either when idle or when being charged/discharged. In most batteries, the chemical reaction that takes place will erode substances in the battery, or some of the chemicals will be permanently lost via consumption. Since no chemical reaction takes place in VRBs, that possibility of substance-erosion or consumption is eliminated, thus the no-capacity-loss trait. And, also thanks to the battery's nature, the time it takes to charge a device using these batteries is extremely shortened, meaning they can charge products almost instantly (well, in comparison to how long it takes products to charge currently).

Another selling point of VRBs are part of its method of creation: Vanadium itself can be made as a by-product of steel smelter slag. With steel production rising in recent years (and prospects of continued increase in production), the act of creating Vanadium wouldn't exactly be out-of-the-way for companies.

Of course, there's a downside. The average energy density of a VRB is lower than that of most rechargeable batteries (at that size). It's likely that, given time, research, and a bit of tinkering, the average energy density of a VRB will increase over the upcoming years.

Another fun fact: as with most batteries, the bigger the size, the bigger the output. This holds true for VRBs, since they can make use of "storage tanks", which are essentially large holding areas containing electrolytes that can be used in conjunction with the VRB. Think of it as a battery pack...for your battery pack. (I wonder when our battery packs' battery packs will have battery packs. Confusing, much?)

                 

While current use of VRBs are limited for now, they definitely have potential and should at least be interesting to watch over the next few years.

Sources: Rocky Mountain Resources and The University of South Wales

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Toshiba Unveils Battery-Powered TV

clock November 29, 2010 23:08 by author Jeremy

Toshiba has just released three new sets of televisions: the "55ZL800", the "WL700 Series", and the "TV Power Series". While the first two are still impressive, the third one is stirring up a bit of news in the battery world.

The TV Power Series (as seen on right) is available in 24- and 32-inches, comes equipped with an emergency battery pack that can last roughly 2 hours for your viewing pleasure. In addition, there is also a built-in "Auto Signal Booster" that will increase signal sensitivity in normally weak-signal areas.

These three new TVs are being marketed in the ASEAN region (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). The TV Power Series' battery may come in handy here, where power outages and weak signal strength are more common.

Toshiba may be on to something with this television-battery-pack, though. With phones, tablets, and other devices having the capacity to deliver shows just like a TV would, it was only a matter of time before someone asked, "Why not just take an actual TV with you?"

What do a tailgate-party and a margarita-filled beach-vacation have in common? They're both missing a television...but not for long.

That's either a dream come true, or a horribly photoshopped image. Possibly both.

Source: engadget and Toshiba (translated page)

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POSCO's new NaS Batteries

clock November 20, 2010 01:40 by author 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.

Source: renewableenergyworld.com

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Ioxus Batteries Charge In Under A Minute

clock November 13, 2010 00:45 by author 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

 

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Solar Power: The Latest Fad

clock November 5, 2010 01:20 by author 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

 

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