Archive for the 'Rechargeable Batteries' Category

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 “nanostructured 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 “an 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.

28
Apr

Are rechargeable batteries in smartphones at their limit?

We have come to a point in technology where it appears we are not progressing any further in rechargeable battery technology for Smartphones. It’s either pick one for battery life, and make it threw the day with so-so performance, or the high end quad core phone that should make it threw lunchtime.

Sure, you can just simply get a battery extender case, which almost doubles the weight and thickness of the phone, but why should we have to? Can’t we simply have a Smartphone that will just last all day and into the next?

iphone-battery-dead

As contemplated by The Independent regarding this balance of battery life vs performance:

The Great Smartphone Conundrum. The time has come – we’re going to have to choose between performance and battery life. Smartphones keep getting faster. If you buy a new high-end phone this year, you’ll find it’s noticeably more powerful than last year’s best gadgets. It will let you run much more demanding apps, it will load up web pages more quickly, and it will deliver sharper, more advanced videos and games.

The Independent continues to dissect the problem:

One of the reasons phones have been getting faster is that they’re also getting bigger. A bigger phone allows for a bigger battery, which allows for a faster processor. But now we’ve hit a wall in phone size: Today’s biggest and fastest phones carry screens of around 5in, and they’re not going to get any bigger than that. (If they did, they wouldn’t fit in your hand.)

Well, they actually have gotten bigger than 5”, the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 has proven that at 5.5” and they just seem to get closer and closer to the 7” tablet market size. But there needs to be a better solution than simply installing the largest battery that will fit and making phones that weight .22kg or more.

We need to see some changes at the rate the Smartphone market is growing as well, as that is the single biggest complaint, and limitation of the industry today.

By Michael Nace

 

18
Apr

Are you ready for a power outage?

Are you prepared for a power outage of any length of time in your home? We really don’t think of this situation until it is upon us, so perhaps now is a good time to gather together some essentials in the unfortunate event of a blackout.

flashlight torch

 

Do you have enough Torches, and especially batteries to power them?  Vapex instant D sized Rechargeables have excellent shelf life.  They retain 80% of their capacity after 6 months and 70% after 12 months compared to standard Ni-MH rechargeable batteries.

If you happen to have an abundance of AA sized rechargeables around the house already, then perhaps some AA to D sized Battery Convertors might be of interest to you.  These allow you to run 2 AA batteries in parallel to double the mAh output of the battery, and make the most of what you already have.

Vapex also makes a nifty 12v AAA and AA battery charger that can run off of a car charger in the event you need to recharge some AA’s to keep powering smaller emergency devices like portable radios and smaller battery lamps.

Just make sure that you don’t forget to keep spare batteries fully charged in the event of an emergency, if you don’t want to sit around in the dark wishing you had dropped the batteries in the charger just a few days ago.

By Michael Nace

 

11
Apr

Chevy Volt Battery Tech Questioned After Billions needlessly spent

The Chevy Volt is being questioned as to the reliability and cost of it’s rechargeable battery design. It appears that never ending funding has been poured into this, and similar vehicles by the government due to their policies concerning low emission vehicles.

Regardless of the billions the US government has spent toward development costs and tax credits to purchasers of the vehicles themselves – the electric rechargeable vehicle is still not a viable alternative to a gas or diesel powered engine for the large majority of the public.

As noted from National Legal and Policy Center:

In addition to the efficiency limitations, we have an even more troubling question as to the safety of the Volt’s technology. GM keeps a team of Hazmat specialists on call to respond to any Onstar notifications of accidents involving a Volt. Firefighters, unless properly trained, must stay away from the complex, volatile power source which has more than 600 seals and cooling components to keep it safe. In fact, according to Josh Payne who worked on the first Volt battery and is now senior engineering manager at Energy Power Systems, “That’s 600 seals that all have to stay for the entirety of its life otherwise you have catastrophic failures.” That does not sound too reassuring!

The worst part of this mostly-untold story is the taxpayer money that continues to be wasted on the green pipe dream. The American people were lied to about the potential for the Chevy Volt, as well as for the technology behind it. Billions of dollars were spent on grants and failed loans for production of plug-in EVs, lithium-ion batteries and charging stations. Wealthy purchasers of $40,000 Chevy Volts and $100,000 Teslas receive federal tax credits for $7,500 each. Subsidized battery makers like A123 Systems are bankrupt and government-supported, green automaker Fisker is not far from it. How are middle-class or poor Americans benefiting from any of this?

The answer simply is – they are not seeing any sort of benefit. Most middle-class purchasers are not spending $40,000 on a car to save a few mpg or to have to plug it in every $200 miles, they want a practical vehicle they can refill its ‘power’ in under 10 minutes – At the gas station.

By Michael Nace

 

09
Apr

has the Rechargeable battery vehicle died?

People are wishing for an affordable electric vehicle that you can simply plug in for a short duration to charge, and have the range of a typical gas guzzler or more. The problem here is not the vehicle itself, but the Rechargeable Battery that is powering said vehicle. It is currently expensive, takes hours to charge vs 5 minutes at the gas pump, and offers limited range for the amount of energy you just put into it.

As noted from Business Insider:

A much better battery is the “holy grail,” says Jack Nerad, executive editorial director and market analyst at Kelley Blue Book. While lots of parties are working on it, “nobody’s got there yet.”
Until someone does, the story of the electric car in the United States will continue to be one of high expectations and consistent letdowns.

Fisker, a startup funded in part by nearly $200 million from the Department of Energy, just fired three quarters of its workforce and is in the process of imploding. It has not produced a single Atlantic, the model designed to be the “volume car that begins to build growth.”

Tesla, another government-funded startup, has achieved profitability for this quarter (a major milestone), but despite unending promises that it will soon bring an affordable car to market, its prices have only gone up.

Are we just spinning our wheels handing out government funds to start-ups without seeing anything in return? Or will we keep trying to find the elusive formula to the magical rechargeable battery that will finally outperform the traditional fossil fuel engine?

04
Apr

Moore’s Law for rechargeable batteries?

Electric cars are starting to catch on, but quite slowly. Perhaps it’s the size and cost of the huge rechargeable battery that can cost up to a 3rd of the vehicle price that is deterring potential buyers. Along with the price comes a limited driving range as well – people are watching the power level while they are driving not unlike a smartphone user hoping their battery lasts the day until they can recharge again.

Photo credit: jurvetson / Foter.com / CC BY

Moore’s law is the observation that over the history of computer hardware, the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles roughly every two years. We take technology for granted – we expect the computer we buy 2 years from now to be twice as fast as our old one.

Fred Schlacter has an essay on why batteries are basically different from computers, or other electronic gadgets such as tablets:

“The reason there is a Moore’s Law for computer processors is that electrons are small and they do not take up space on a chip. Chip performance is limited by the lithography technology used to fabricate the chips; as lithography improves ever smaller features can be made on processors.
Batteries are not like this. Ions, which transfer charge in batteries, are large, and they take up space, as do anodes, cathodes, and electrolytes. A D-cell battery stores more energy than an AA-cell. Potentials in a battery are dictated by the relevant chemical reactions, thus limiting eventual battery performance. Significant improvement in battery capacity can only be made by changing to a different chemistry.
Scientists and battery experts, who have been optimistic in the recent past about improving lithium-ion batteries and about developing new battery chemistries—lithium/air and lithium/sulfur are the leading candidates—are considerably less optimistic now.”

So to be realistic, we cannot expect to continue to utilize the same technology and demand to have smaller, lighter, and more powerful rechargeable battery technology. Changes will have to be made, and new research heavily funded to make sufficient progress. We are still utilizing technology developed in the late 1850’s to start our cars every day.

02
Apr

Into Photography? Here is some must have info about rechargeables

If you’re into photography, then you should already familiar with batteries of all types. Camera Batteries, external flash batteries, Light meter batteries, etc. If you’re still using Alkaline batteries, you must have spent a small fortune in replacement costs by now. If you have not looked into rechargeables to power all of your equipment, now is the time.

Typically most accessories will run on the standard AA sized battery, with a few exceptions utilizing AAA, such as a light meter. These are easiest ones to convert to rechargeables. Check out the great selection of AA’s over at Electronics Warehouse.

Here is some vocabulary that you need to know regarding rechargeable batteries.

mAh. (milliamp hour) This is the storage capacity of the battery. It will be your guide to compare what batteries have more expected runtime than others. a 1900mAh battery will have a shorter run time, or number of flashes then a battery rated for 2500mAh. Typically the larger the capacity, the slightly higher the cost of the battery.

Low Self Discharge. Rechargeable batteries will lose some of their charge if simply left unused. Newer batteries have been developed to reduce this drain effect and will provide a longer shelf life, or in this case – a better “camera bag” life.

NiMh and NiCad. NiMh is nickel metal hydride, and NiCad, is nickel-cadmium. NiMh is the battery of choice, as it provides many more desirable characteristics that you as a photographer want out of your batteries – sich as Low Self Discharge, longer running time and no cell memory.

NiCad’s have a memory issue, and if they are not cycled completely on a regular basis, they will pick up “bad charging habits” and provide a lower performance. They are cheaper, but will cost you more than the purchase price down the road.

As discussed by Brian Rock over at HubPages:

For general usage, you’ll probably want standard capacity, low self-discharge batteries. 2000 mAh is good enough, and you’re better off having batteries that hold their charge in your camera bag than higher capacity batteries that discharge too quickly.”

And as additional comment:

“For some people, though, you’ll the extra power of the high capacity batteries. Let’s say you’re using several flashes off camera, and you’re popping the flashes regularly at half or full power. That will use up your batteries fairly quickly, and an extra 25% capacity can make a difference. The trade-off is that these batteries will discharge more quickly when not in use, so you’ll want to remember to charge them the night before an important shoot.

If your main camera runs on AA’s, a simple change over to Rechargeables is easy enough. However if your trusty Canon requires a more specialized battery, it would be good to have at least one spare, in the event you require more power. Again, Electronics Warehouse has a great selection for your Canon.

Now lets look at chargers. Energizer makes a 15 minute quick charger that seems fantastic in concept, until you actually use one. They know that the batteries are going to be putting off so much heat from the charging process, that they have a fan running to try to keep the batteries cool during this process. And once done, the batteries are far too hot to even hold in your hand.

This is a sure fire way to really reduce the life expectancy of your AA rechargeables for the convenience of a quick charge.

For best results, you want a smart charger that actually monitors battery voltage and capacity during the charge process. Check out Electronics Warehouse for their great selection of chargers to fit your needs.

Photo credit: Monkwhy / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA




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