It’s the same old story: batteries are holding us back. Technology is advancing so quickly across so many industries, but the next-generation batteries needed to power all of these advancements more efficiently are nowhere to be found. Researchers are hard at work on improving existing battery tech though, and they’re also developing exciting new kinds of batteries that could someday proliferate. Now, scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology think they may be on an exciting path toward building a new type of liquid battery that uses gravity to generate energy. More →
One of my biggest gripes with today’s smartwatches is charging — specifically, that I have to plug in my wristputer every night, or it becomes a useless and expensive hunk of metal. But if this flexible solar-powered battery becomes a reality, we could finally have wearables that live up to the hype.
A team from the University of Illinois, Northwest University, South Korea and China developed the battery, which they say is capable of changing its shape to fit in various devices. The various components of the battery and solar cells are integrated into a silicone shell and connected by flexible copper-polymer joints. The result is a charging and storage solution that can stretch and bend by 30 percent without losing its ability to generate solar charge.
It’s the question that smartphone users have been asking for years: When will we get vastly better battery power in our devices? Thanks to some breakthrough research, significantly better battery technology may arrive sooner than expected. IFLScience points us to new research published in the Nature science journal that describes a prototype for a so-called “lithium-oxygen” battery that is based on lithium superoxide (LiO2) and can store up to five times the energy of current lithium-ion batteries. More →
Lithium-ion batteries are fantastic but they’re also unstable and can be explosive when they overheat. Researchers at Stanford University have been working on how to fix this problem and have developed a new kind of lithium-ion battery that automatically shuts down once it reaches a certain temperature and won’t switch back on until it has sufficiently cooled. More →
A research team at the University of Alberta may have made a breakthrough that ultimately leads to dramatic improvements in the batteries that power everything from laptops and smartphones to medical devices and tools. According to lead researcher Xinwei Cui, the lithium-ion battery technology his team is currently developing charges faster, lasts longer and outputs more power than current lithium-ion batteries. More →
Two engineers at the University of South Carolina conducted research that showed a modified store-bought T-shirt can act like a supercapacitor and store an electrical charge. “We wear fabric every day,” said Xiaodong Li, a professor of mechanical engineering at the school. “One day our cotton T-shirts could have more functions; for example, a flexible energy storage device that could charge your cell phone or your iPad.” Li and his associates used a store-bought T-shirt, which was then soaked in a fluoride solution and baked at a high temperature in an oxygen-free oven. Once removed, the resulting fibers were converted from cellulose to activated carbon capable of storage an electrical charge.
An Apple patent uncovered on Thursday describes new technology Apple is experimenting with in an effort to increase the battery life in its device lines. The patent filing, entitled Increasing Energy Density in Rechargeable Lithium Battery Cells, describes a unique multi-pronged approach to the problem of poor battery life in consumer electronics. Apple is investigating the use of a new “multi-step constant-current constant-voltage (CC-CV) charging technique,” which would increase the volumetric and gravimetric energy density of energy-storing material within a battery. According to the filing, this would increase the capacity of a battery without impacting battery size or charge time. Relative to competitive products, Apple’s mobile device and laptop lines are often praised for exhibiting impressive battery life. There can never be enough time in between charges, however, and as more features and better displays are added to future devices, manufacturers will always struggle to ensure battery life is not overly degraded as a result. More →
Just a quick PSA: Garmin has just announced that they are voluntarily recalling 1.25 million nüvi navigation units due to the possibility of faulty batteries. A press release explains that some devices, with a specific printed circuit board design, could contain defective third-party batteries that, “in rare circumstances, increase the possibility of overheating, which may lead to a fire hazard.” The nüvi models affected include those with the model numbers 200W, 250W, 260W, 7xx and 7xxT. If you want to determine if your nüvi is being recalled you can visit garmin.com/nuvibatterypcbrecall to check. We have the full press release after the break. More →
The Duo seems to have been a failed experiment for battery maker Energizer in more ways than one. Sales of the USB nickle-metal battery charging station never really took off, and now, via a press release, the company has announced the monitoring software distributed with the Duo packs a fairly nasty Windows trojan. The rogue code, according to Computerworld: “listens for commands on TCP port 7777… can download and execute files, transmit files stolen from the PC, or tweak the Windows registry. The Trojan automatically executes each time the PC is turned on, and remains active, even if the Energizer charger is not connected to the machine.” Energizer released a statement saying: “Energizer is currently working with both CERT and U.S. government officials to understand how the code was inserted in the software.” More →