Monday, March 16, 2009

New Battery Could Recharge in Seconds

This article by Wired Magazine chronicles the work of researchers at MIT. The progress that has been made in battery technology by MIT is truly extraordinary. The new battery works similar to the traditional Lithium Ion battery that most phones and computers use. The difference is that a new material is used to coat that Lithium Ion battery and this material an Iron Phosphate allows energy to be much more quickly delivered from the energy source into the battery. These new batteries allow recharging at rates that are as higher as 100 times improved from traditional batteries. 
This new technology does have it's detractors however. Many say that due to the abnormally large amount of energy being transfered in a short period of time immense heat would be generated thus harming the staying power of the battery. This means that these new batteries could begin to lose their ability to hold the same amount of energy much quicker than traditional batteries. MIT's study did however addressee this issue, they said that in their findings the batteries could be charged 50 times without any loss to their energy storage capacities. The article mentions that for many less common items charging is needed upwards of hundreds of times per day. For items such as this, these new batteries would be invaluable.  
There are also worries about transferring this technology from purely research based and into consumer markets. The author of the article, Alexis Madrigal likens the process of moving these batteries from prototypes into mass production as similar to recreating home cooking in a school cafeteria. The two process are very different and even have different properties and methods. This is to say the conditions and costs that allow researchers at MIT to create these batteries may be very different from those that any major producer may have. This has not stopped two firms from buying up the rights to these type of batteries in an attempt to put these into production. So while there are many barriers there is still hope that in a few years time we will be seeing these super batteries coming to mainstream use.
By: Alexis Madrigal Wired Magazine March 11, 2009

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