While computers have grown ever smaller and more powerful, battery technology has been slow to catch up to the demands of all the devices that rely on them for power. The best batteries on the commercial market still need frequent recharging or replacement. However, some recent breakthroughs promise a bright future for battery power. The following are some of the innovations to watch for.
One device that’s already on the market is a charger that uses a plant’s photosynthesis. It looks just like a potted plant with a USB port disguised as a rock. The power comes from a chemical reaction generated by organic materials in the pot and the water and other organic materials produced by the plant as it converts light to energy. If this technology is developed, it may be possible someday to power an entire house or community by harnessing organic energy.
Another promising invention is something called a nanowire battery. Nanowires are infinitesimal wires that increase the surface area of an electrode, which also increases the battery’s energy output and durability. Recently, scientists discovered that gold nanowires can make a battery last so long that it never has to be replaced. Though not yet on the market, batteries of the future may last a lifetime.
Recently some phone and laptop batteries have been recalled due to their tendency to overheat, and in some cases, catch fire. A new type of battery made with a copper foam substrate may eliminate that problem for good. In addition, foam batteries have a longer battery life, more power density, and a faster charging time than traditional batteries.
Another new development is an aluminum-graphite battery that can give a cell phone a full charge in just sixty seconds. The positive anode and negative graphite cathode are suspended in an ionic liquid that is safer for the environment than alkaline batteries and will not overheat. Not only does the battery charge quickly, it can be fully discharged and re-charged 7,500 times without losing any capacity.
These are just a few of the innovations in battery technology that will have an impact on future energy needs. Other new batteries breathe air, use microbial fuel cells, or are activated with water. Energy investors who want to keep up with the latest developments in energy storage technology can read more here.