Archive for October, 2013

28
Oct

Fewer, Not More Rechargeable Battery Brands By 2017

sanyo eneloop

A report on the future of the rechargeable battery market is suggesting that there will be only a handful of relevant brands by 2017. Read how fewer rechargeable battery brands could affect you, the consumer.

For quite a long while now, NiMH rechargeable batteries have been mass produced and marketed by a wide range of companies, leading to a rise in accessibility for rechargeables that never existed in the past. Decades ago, when NiCD rechargeable batteries tried to penetrate the marketplace, the issues with the battery design itself, together with the top manufacturers’ unwillingness to commit to a sustainable battery design, kept NiCDs on the periphery. But with NiMH and LiON becoming so universally used, even big brands have gotten into the game, expanding the market considerably.

However, according to a thorough study, the rechargeable battery market is due for a significant contraction of brands and options for consumers. Continue reading ‘Fewer, Not More Rechargeable Battery Brands By 2017’

19
Oct

A New Take on Rechargeable Car Batteries

volvoLeave it to Volvo to do something new, innovative, and challenging to any other car maker. Or, to anyone within the electronics industry for that matter. It seems that Volvo recently unveiled a potentially game-obliterating technology for electric and hybrid cars. The multi-year project, funded by the EU and conducted in coordination with the Imperial College London, has created rechargeable batteries that can be embedded into a car’s outer paneling.

This new technology relies on something called “structural supercapacitors”. In working with this new technology for their batteries, Volvo claims that they are not only lighter and less voluminous than a traditional car battery, but can charge and store energy faster.

The real draw to the battery is not just the power and faster charging, but in the way that it can be integrated within the body of the car itself. The new material that the rechargeable battery is made of utilizes reinforced carbon fibers and pliant nanostructured batteries. This means that the manufacturer now has the ability to mold the battery into the various parts of a car’s exterior including doors panels and trunk lids.

Don’t be fooled by what the battery is made out of. It still works just like any other rechargeable battery found within electric or hybrid cars. Like current rechargeable batteries, the moldable batteries can be juiced up by using brake energy or by plugging into the grid.

How Does it Work?

Of course, whenever there is a new battery powered car on the market people inevitably want to know how well it works, how much does a car get in distance on full battery and if there is any type of power associated with it. In the course of the study, the research engineers tested a Volvo S80 in which the boot lid (or for our American friends, “trunk”) and plenum cover were replaced with the new batteries. These batteries were powerful enough to supply energy to the car’s 12-Volt system and delivered plenty of mileage and speed.

This means that there may be a new horizon within the hybrid, or completely electric car, that is here today. There has been some conversations that this new type of battery could essentially replace the entire electric car as we know it today.

However, that is not the only good outcome of this new battery, and material, technology. Whit the new battery, Volvo is now able to bring this new material into different aspects of their vehicles and actually lighten the car by 15%. This would mean a lot in areas where there is heavy traffic on older roads and bridges.

09
Oct

Leaving Electronics Plugged In Leads To Wasted Electricity

ecoswitch

The environmental benefits of rechargeable batteries is undeniable. But recent reports on how “vampire electronics” — devices and cables that are left plugged in on a regular basis — can waste much more energy and money than what rechargeable batteries can save.

Once consumers get past the initial “sticker shock” of rechargeable batteries’ price tag, it becomes apparent that a quality set of rechargeables can save you a lot of money. 3 AA rechargeable batteries, which might run you AUD$21.99, pay for themselves after just a few recharges. Battery chargers can be a bit expensive at the outset, but it doesn’t take long before your battery charger becomes a money- and environment-saving machine.

However, no matter how good your environmental and money-saving intentions are in investing in rechargeable batteries and battery chargers, “vampire electronics” can erase any savings that you might gain from using renewable energy in your electronics. Continue reading ‘Leaving Electronics Plugged In Leads To Wasted Electricity’

02
Oct

Can Band-Gap Engineering Change Batteries?

band-gap-engineeringAnyone who has worked with Lithium-ion batteries knows that, as convenient as they are for recharging, they do not last that long. Which, requires the need for recharging them. However, with new technologies, being introduced all the time, batteries last longer and charge faster.

For example, one of the answers to this problem has been to replace the graphite with silicon. However, the expanding and contracting that occurred as the lithium ions transported in and out of silicon electrodes quickly cracks it. As researchers went back to the drawing board, the next solution was to create β€œnanostructured silicon” electrodes, sometimes with the help of graphene or good old carbon nanotubes.

Today, the advancements in battery technology, especially that within Lithium-ion batteries, comes from University of California San Diego. Researchers as UCSD have begun taking what is happening with band-gap engineering, in which heterostructures are used to create energy barriers between electrons and holes, and applied the concept to creating barriers to the ions as they enter into an electrode so they diffuse in a very specific way.

This new research has been published in what is called the Nano Letters. The article describes the process of band-gap engineering as a typical surface diffusion of lithium ions into a nanowire electrode is blocked and instead the ions are diffused layer-by-layer along the length of the nanowire.

This sounds much different than any other method, but researchers are very optimistic over the long term affects it will have on rechargeable batteries. To follow up on this inforamation, Shadi Dayeh, a professor at UCSD, explains in a press release that this control of how the ions diffuse could result in β€œan effective way to tailor volume expansion of lithium ion battery electrodes, which could potentially minimize their cracking, improve their durability, and perhaps influence how one could think about different electrode architectures.”

According to Dayeh, the new electrodes would allow for battery designs in which the expansion of the electrodes would not cause any shorting between the cathode and the anode.

With all of the new ways that researchers are discovering how to create batteries, prolong their lives, add more power, and create faster recharging times, it may be possible to have incredible powerhouses within the palm of your hand, or smartphone, or car.




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