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Technology changes life: a better battery is coming Mar 08, 2018

"Over the years, every technology has improved, with the exception of the battery! How no one can find a better battery?" 

Recently, it seems always to hear this, but from a practical point of view, talking about the battery When the issue of electronics enthusiasts are always ignoring the three priorities.

The first point: the battery you are most likely to think of, probably just the kind you use on your cellphone or laptop. However, as many scientists have pointed out, batteries are also the solution to many of the more important issues, such as energy, transportation, climate change and the like.

For example, today's EVs make up only 1% of new car sales in the United States. One reason is that they cost more to use than fuel trucks. The other is mileage anxiety - consumers are scared of a sudden electric outage in far away from home. Now researchers are developing cheaper, more capacity battery, precisely in order to solve these two problems.

Then the grid. Electricity than running water, has been in the water pipe, only waiting for you to turn on the tap. When you turn on a lamp, the power needed must have been generated in real time at this moment. Therefore, the power supply unit must deal with the huge fluctuation of energy demand every day. At night, all people have fallen asleep and their electricity demand has dropped to almost zero. At 5 pm, people rush to their home when they get home from get off work. In fact, utility companies maintain a number of costly, inefficient, and often under-utilized backup power plants ("peak load power plants") all year round to deal with unscheduled increases in demand, such as during heatwaves.

Batteries connected to the grid are able to balance these clutter. Perhaps more importantly, grid batteries store the power generated by solar energy when the sun is empty and store the power generated by the wind as the wind blows, for use when needed. After all, so far, we have not been able to let the sun and the wind with our daily life schedule.

The second point people ignore: Our complaints are often directed toward the battery capacity, that is, how long it takes for our electronic products. In fact, capacity (energy density) is just one of many aspects of the battery industry to enhance. We also hope that these batteries will be cheaper, less harmful to the environment after being discarded, will last long (can be recharged thousands of times), and be compact and lightweight (especially for EV batteries). A cell phone that explodes itself is enough to ruin your mood all day, and Samsung has provided us with examples.

In general, a battery can not take into account all the above advantages. All told, we do not always need all the advantages. For example, grid batteries, there is no need to do portable compact. Then the field can open the door to other types of batteries, such as the flow of batteries: This battery has several huge containers, which store different chemical solutions, the solution into a reaction vessel staggered flow of electricity. Or the flywheel battery: using steel and other materials made of several thousands of pounds of disc, in the low energy prices at a time when the power-driven them in the frictionless chamber (the use of magnets suspended in a vacuum) Spinning thousands of times per minute, in the daytime, engineers can re-release their stored kinetic energy in the form of electricity.

The third key: For decades, the battery has been continuously improving. The reason we did not notice this is because our equipment has also been getting faster, stronger and more energy-intensive over this period. You know, if you have a way to put a modern iPhone battery into a 1995 cell phone, as long as the charge once, probably enough for the year you use.