C&B Notes

Better Batteries

Battery technology has substantially lagged Moore’s Law, and this deficiency has held back all sorts of applications from electric cars to tablets to solar panels.  We continue to watch the various advancements in batteries with interest.  A good deal of conventional wisdom about various industries could be turned on its head if batteries can make a 5x advancement from current levels.  We include this type of battery technology advancement in our list of things that can disrupt companies and industries — improving some while simultaneously obsolescing others.

From Northwestern University’s News Center:

Imagine a cellphone battery that stayed charged for more than a week and recharged in just 15 minutes.  That dream battery could be closer to reality thanks to Northwestern University research.

A team of engineers has created an electrode for lithium-ion batteries — rechargeable batteries such as those found in cellphones and iPods — that allows the batteries to hold a charge up to 10 times greater than current technology.  Batteries with the new electrode also can charge 10 times faster than current batteries.

The researchers combined two chemical engineering approaches to address two major battery limitations — energy capacity and charge rate — in one fell swoop.  In addition to better batteries for cellphones and iPods, the technology could pave the way for more efficient, smaller batteries for electric cars.

The technology could be seen in the marketplace in the next three to five years, the researchers said.

As Stephen Dubner has reported, other smart folks are working hard to advance the battery.