Researchers and developers have worked hard to create sophisticated batteries for decades. Though battery technology appeared to have reached a plateau not too long ago, today’s batteries have increased in terms of capacity, efficiency, and longevity. Here’s a brief look at the future of batteries:
Lithium-ion batteries are commonly found in today’s many handheld devices. Unfortunately, lithium may become difficult to obtain in just a few years. One proposed alternative is the sodium-ion battery, but this technology hasn’t matured and doesn’t measure up to the current performance standards of lithium-ion batteries. However, recent studies have found that the addition of pyrolyzed sucrose—the main component of sugar, heated to around 2700 degrees Fahrenheit—can create a new sodium-ion battery with 20% more power capacity.
One of the challenges that battery manufacturers face is tomorrow’s power-hungry multifunction devices, including smartphones, laptops, and hybrid vehicles. A research team located at the Berkeley National Laboratory has devised an advanced polymer that has the potential to boost the capacity and longevity of lithium-ion batteries. Traditional lithium-ion batteries wear down with every use; however, the addition of this polymer can help them store more than eight times the power of conventional designs without degradation.
A battery’s capacity affects how long it can power a device. Technology tends toward faster and smaller devices—take a smartphone, for instance. The last thing a smartphone manufacturer wants to do is add a heavier battery for increased capacity. Fortunately, Northwestern University professor Harold Kung and his team have devised a silicon substitute for the carbon normally used in lithium-ion batteries. They’ve also developed upgrades that improve the speed of power transfer, increasing the capacity of a battery by a factor of 10.
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