Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Tethercell Gives Remote Access to AA battery Powered Electronics

Using your smartphone and a Tethercell you can now control whether a AA battery powered device is on or off by using the Tetherboard app on your smartphone. You just put a AAA battery into this AA sized cell case and then put these into any electronics that use AA batteries. It even alerts your smartphone when the batteries are running low!

Source: http://ces.cnet.com/8301-34441_1-57562664/tethercell-magically-turns-aa-batteries-into-bluetooth-devices/

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Safer, Cheaper Batteries on the Way

The folks (researchers) at Aalto University in Finland have developed a new process for manufacturing lithium batteries. Currently, a harmful substance called methylpyrrolidone (NMP) is used in the production of electrodes. The researchers have developed a method where they can replace the harmful solvent with water.

Considering the growing demand for batteries around the world,  this is a big deal. The process of using water saves not only in an immediate reduced cost of five percent,  imagine the future health costs to the employees working with, transporting and disposing the harmful chemicals.


A Salt and Battery: The Future of Renewable Energy

How do you get power from a wind turbine on a day with no wind? How do you keep a solar-powered device running at night? These tough questions hit renewable energy where it hurts the most -- its unreliability. However, this may change soon, thanks to Drs Manickam Minakshi and Danielle Meyrick of Murdoch’s School of Chemical and Mathematical Sciences, who have pioneered a large-scale, safe, cost-effective and potent energy storage system using sodium. Similar to lithium, sodium is able to store energy for later use, however, due to the amount required, sodium is impractical for small electronics. On top of that, the battery is based on globally abundant and affordable elements -- sodium, iron and manganese -- making it a clear choice for energy in emerging parts of the world.

Dr. Manickam Minakshi and his Sodium-Ion Battery (Source: Murdoch.edu.au)

Source: New Salt-based Battery a Leap for Green Energy (Phys.org - Aug. 8, 2012)

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Researchers are committed to developing new batteries with Five times the power, Five times cheaper, and within Five years! The U.S. Department of Energy announced a $120 million award to Argonne National Laboratory in Chicago, which seeks to deliver a breakthrough in new battery technology. The new Joint Center for Energy Storage Research will partner five laboratories, five universities, and four private sector firms to “transform the energy landscape” by developing advanced batteries with increased environmentally sound storage capacities and then move them quickly out of the lab and into the $42 billion worldwide marketplace. International competition in battery research is intense and the United States just Powered Up its game!


History of the Battery

Batteries are in use everywhere today. But where did they come from? The first true battery was developed in the 1790s by Alessandro Volta (for whom the SI unit Volt is named). Called the Voltaic Pile, it consisted of an alternating stack of zinc and copper plates, with salt water soaked cloth between each piece of metal. It was the first device that gave a consistent electrical flow; other sources of electrical energy before this gave an inconsistent, bursty electricity. It also had the same behavior we see in batteries today: when connected to a circuit it discharges its energy, when not connected its energy is stored for later use.

In the 1830s John Frederic Daniell developed a battery known as the Daniell cell. One of the problems with Volta's battery was that it used salt water as an intermediary through which ions and current would flow. Current flow through water is called electrolysis and breaks the H20 water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen gas. The hydrogen gas resisted electrical flow and once there was too much of it, the battery stopped functioning.  Daniell's new cell had a second chemical dissolved in the water that would consume the hydrogen as it was produced, significantly increasing the lifespan of the battery. Finally there existed a battery useful enough to leave the laboratory of scientists and go to work in the real world.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Effects of Heat on Lithium-Ion Batteries

Unsurprisingly, lithium-ion batteries are susceptible to the elements, and high temperature extremes can vastly decrease the life of a battery. It is never pleasant when a laptop battery finally dies and one is faced with either spending a significant amount of money for a new battery or solely relying on an external power source. A few things can help prevent this from happening prematurely.
When a laptop (or similar device's) battery is kept plugged in, it is exposed to elevated temperatures. Simply unplugging the unit from the power source once the battery is charged can help extend the battery's life. Additionally, if a battery is easily accessible, one can remove the battery when running a unit off external power -- this will prevent the battery's exposure to prolonged high temperatures. An added benefit of this practice is the prevention of overheating and possible fires, with the detractor that a user's unsaved work could be lost in the event of a power failure. Another practice that may help is to allow some breathing room underneath a laptop. When operating a unit on a heat-trapping element such as a pillow, blanket, or even one's own body, consider placing a small object beneath the unit, or slightly elevating it, to improve air flow and reduce battery exposure to high temperatures.

How to Prolong Lithium-based Batteries
^To learn more about the science behind batteries check out Battery University.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

How Batteries Work

Batteries are used daily and they are found everywhere from cars to all sorts of electronics and devices. If you think about it, battery usage is pretty heavy in the modern day because they are typically used everyday, and everywhere. Knowing the importance of energy storage in batteries and its high usage, it is important to know how these batteries work. A battery contains stored energy within the cells in the battery. A battery contains important components called the anode which is an electrolyte and the cathode which is the metal. Visually this can be seen as the positive and negative terminals of the battery. When these terminals are connected in a circuit, electricity is produced. The circuit connecting the terminals allows the circulation of electrons and the cathode and the anode to react with each other in a chemical process where the metal reacts with the electrolytes creating heat and hydrogen gas which is the energy that flows through the circuit. Different elements of anodes and cathodes can be used to create different types of batteries, where the reaction between the two determines the amount of energy produced by a battery. Batteries power lots of devices, so it's interesting to know that the batteries powering your electronic devices work through a reaction between natural elements.


Recycling Used Batteries

Did you know that over 150,000 tons of disposable batteries end up in our landfills every year? Modern alkaline batteries don't contain dangerous levels of contaminants, but that's still a lot of space! We can all help reduce this number by using rechargeable batteries. Of course those don't last forever, either. When they just won't charge anymore, use the tool below to find a place to drop them off!

Still can't quite kick the alkaline habit? That's okay! You can recycle those too. Find a location at earth911.