The Greater Impacts of Battery Technology

Your smartphone is wonderful. It can steer you to that trendy new fusion restaurant if you are lost. It can play your favorite sitcom as you go to work on the train. It can play your favorite song at the touch of a button. But it can’t do any of this if its battery is dead.

A Better Battery on the Way?

A team of engineers at Chicago’s Northwestern University may have found a way to make a battery that lasts longer and charges itself within minutes, rather then overnight. This story reports on these research efforts. This is fantastic news for smartphone users everywhere.

According to the article, Northwestern’s researchers have found a means to extend the charge-life of a new lithium-ion battery by a factor of 10. Even after 150 charges—which researchers say represents a year or more of operation—this new battery would still be five times more efficient than the today’s lithium-ion batteries.

A Charged Battery for a Week

Here’s the bottom line: The new cell phone battery could stay charged for more than a week and then charge itself in just 15 minutes. This is excellent news for you: It could mean that your iPod won’t run out of juice while you are working the treadmill at the gym. But the new, better battery may have a much greater impact: According to the Northwestern story, this new battery technology could result in smaller and more powerful batteries for electric cars. This may help the United States—and other countries—cut its reliance on fossil fuels.

Batteries Powering Technological Change

The new battery technology isn’t available yet for consumers, but the Northwestern researchers say that it could hit the market in 3 to 5 years. This is a big step. When we look at advancements in technology, we tend to ignore the batteries that power our latest gadgets. Battery constraints are one of the factors holding back an even greater technology revolution. The hope is that the research done at Northwestern University can change this.

Posted on: 04.27.12