It's Time to Get Excited About Battery Technology
- 13 Feb, 2019
The modern world depends on batteries to power everything from toys to cellphones. Up until now, there has been a limit on the efficiency of batteries. Today, the most common type of battery is the lithium ion battery. Now, technology is pushing the limits of the lithium ion batteries to charge faster and hold a charge longer.
Modern Lithium Batteries
A battery is a device that stores chemical energy and converts it into electricity. The lead-acid battery was the standard until the lithium ion battery began development in the 1970s. When lithium ion batteries were introduced to the general public in the 1980s, they were a major leap in efficiency from lead-acid batteries. Humless explains, “lithium ion batteries last 6 to 10 times longer than lead batteries, weigh 3 times less than lead batteries, have less self-discharge, and require zero priming. While they may be slightly more expensive than lead batteries, lithium has become the gold standard.”
Challenges of Modern Batteries
Lithium ion batteries are used in many devices including emergency backup power supplies, as solar power storage, for alarms and surveillance systems, and in laptop computers. These batteries have advantages, including no need to do scheduled cycling to prevent a “memory” from developing. However, they also present several challenges. The first challenge is that the material in a battery can only hold a certain amount of energy. This means that there is a limit to how long a battery can last. Another, as described in this article by Alasdair Wilkins, “a lot of the space in batteries can’t go into chemical components, but to probes and sensors that ensure the battery is performing as well as it can be. There’s only so much space that can be used, and everything has to be specially compartmentalized, or else violent chemical reactions can occur like that seen in ‘explosive batteries’ of the not so distant past.”
The Next 10 YearsModern devices have increasing power demands, and consumers continue to demand longer talk times between charges on their smartphones. This forces developers to search for the next generation in battery innovation. Green Car Reports explains, “Honda is working on the development of a fluoride ion battery that is more efficient for electric cars.” Sodium ion and lithium-sulfur batteries are two other options that are being explored. Both of these options have the potential to store more energy, which means longer battery life is not far into the future.
Batteries have come a long way, and there are some exciting new technologies being developed. This new technology will expand the energy storage capacity and allow us to operate our devices longer on a single charge. Everything from electric cars to our phones will benefit from these advances. Only time will tell which of these technologies will replace the lithium battery as the staple power source for the next generation.