Advances in battery technology on the horizon?
May 18, 2009 7:12 PM   Subscribe

Where can I read about exciting or revolutionary advances in battery or energy storage technology? What is on the horizon that might actually see the light of day? I'm interested in all applications, but most especially computers and cars.
posted by Crotalus to Science & Nature (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't been deeply in the field for 10 years, but 10 years ago, there was nothing on the horizon. The work I did was predicated on the assumption (which was commonly believe to be true) that there would NOT be dramatic improvements in energy storage.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:56 PM on May 18, 2009

I don't know a source off the top of my head, but one of the things to watch for is capacitor-based batteries. Capacitors store a charge by having two conductive plates separated by a nonconductive layer. You can pump in charge and get it out later. The biggest advantage over chemical-based batteries is that you can dump a whole lot of charge into in in a hurry, and it will soak up most of it. This would be a great aid in regenerative braking, and you could also top off a battery in minutes (or seconds) instead of hours.

Apparently the technology still isn't ready quite yet, but some important advances have been made in the last 5-10 years.
posted by echo target at 8:17 PM on May 18, 2009

The big thing on the horizon for computers and other portable electronics is immense capacitors. The energy density isn't really where we would want it yet, but they're working on improving that. Super capacitors now run 30 Wh/kg, compared to 300 or so for lithium batteries and as much as 80 for NiMH.

That rates as "exciting" but not really as "revolutionary". They've got a long way to go before they're even as good as lithium batteries, let a long significantly better. It's a fundamentally difficult problem and I doubt you'll see any revolution (in the sense that you're thinking of) any time soon.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:17 PM on May 18, 2009

Nowhere or Wired.

Nowhere because nothing exciting has happened in batteries in 100 years, and won't in the next 20. Wired because they will manage to sensationalize the smallest advance in battery technology.
posted by b1tr0t at 8:30 PM on May 18, 2009

I track the EEStor stuff, for their ultracapacitor development. I look around for scientific abstracts, so I can catch stuff like that fast-recharge technology, which has started because someone finally asked the question, "Why does it take so long to recharge, anyway?"
posted by adipocere at 4:05 AM on May 19, 2009

Equal with battery development, or possibly even more important, will be shifts in how the energy we *can* store is used. Look at the Atom processors, for example. And improvements in hybrid technology.
posted by gjc at 5:11 AM on May 19, 2009

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