mobile science & technology

Batteries take the lithium for charge boost • The Register

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To do that, the researchers coated a lithium anode with a layer of hollow carbon nanospheres, to prevent the growth of the dendrites.

via Batteries take the lithium for charge boost • The Register.

As research is being done on incremental improvements in Lithium Ion batteries, some occasional discoveries are being made. In this instance, the anode is being switched to pure lithium with a coating to protect the very reactive metal surface. The problem with using pure lithium is the growth of micro crystalline “dendrites”, kind of like stalagmites/stalactites in caves, along the whole surface. As the the dendrites build up, the anode loses it’s efficiency and that battery slowly loses it’s ability to charge all the way. This research has shown how to coat a pure lithium anode with a later of carbon nanotubes to help act as a permeable layer between the the electrolytic liquid in the battery and the pure lithium anode.

In past articles on we’ve seen announcements of other possible battery technologies like Zinc-Air, Lithium-Air and possible use of carbon nanotubes as a anode material. This announcement is promising in that it’s added costs might be somewhat smaller versus a wholesale change in battery chemistry. Similarly the article points out how much lighter elemental Lithium is versus the current anode materials (Carbon and Silicon). If the process of coating the anode is sufficiently inexpensive and can be done on a industrial production line, you will see this get adopted. But with most experiments like these, scaling up and lowering costs is the hardest thing to do. Hopefully this is one that will make it into shipping products and see the light of day.


mobile science & technology technology

Battery vendors push ultracapacitor wrappers to give Li-ions more bite • The Register

Lithium ion battery by Varta (Museum Autovisio...
Lithium ion battery by Varta (Museum Autovision Altlußheim, Germany) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A pair of battery vendors are hoping that a new design which incorporates the use of an ultracapacitor material will help to improve and extend the life of lithium-ion battery packs.

via Battery vendors push ultracapacitor wrappers to give Li-ions more bite • The Register.

First a little background info on what is a capacitor:

In short it’s like a very powerful, high density battery for smoothing out the “load” of an electrical circuit. It helps prevent spikes and dips in the electricity as it flows through a device. But with recent work done on ultra-capacitors they can be more like a full-fledged battery that doesn’t ever lose it’s charge over time. When they are combined up with a real live battery you can do some pretty interesting things to both the capacitor and the battery to help them work together, allowing longer battery life, higher total amount of charge capacity. Many things can flow from combining ultracapacitors with a really high end Lithium ion battery.

Any technology, tweak or improvement that promises at minimum 10% improvement over current Lithium ion battery designs is worth a look. They’re claiming a full 15% in this story from The Reg. And due to the re-design it would seem it needs to meet regulatory/safety approval as well. Having seen the JAL Airlines suffer battery issues on the Boeing 787, I couldn’t agree more.

There will be some heavy lifting needing to be done between now and when a product like this hits the market. Testing and failure analysis will ultimately decide whether or not this ultra-capacitor/Lithium ion hybrid is safe enough to use for consumer electronics. I’m also hoping Apple and other manufacturer/design outfits like Apple are putting some eyes, ears and phone calls on this to learn more. Samsung too might be interested in this, but are seemingly more reliant for battery designs outside of their company. That’s where Apple has the upperhand long term, they will design every part if needed in order to keep ahead of the competition.

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