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First zinc-air batteries will hit next year in small form factors

Rechargeable batteries are used in so many different products that we use today – everything from our computers and mobile phones to our cars have batteries inside. One of the major areas of research is in new battery technologies that will increase the run time of electrical devices and make safer batteries.

Lithium-ion rechargeable batteries have been on the market for a long time and are prone to problems. The batteries, for instance, were the cause of massive recall several years ago after they were overheating in notebooks which in turn caused fires. One of the more promising new battery technologies being researched are zinc-air batteries.

These batteries are cheaper and have a significantly larger capacity for storing energy than existing lithium-ion batteries. Physorg reports that the average lithium-ion battery stores only a third of the energy that zinc-air batteries are capable of storing and cost about twice as much as the zinc-air counterpart.

A Swiss company called ReVolt plans to release a zinc-air battery next year. At first, the batteries will be small units that will be used in hearing aids. Later the batteries will come in larger forms for mobile phones and much later, the zinc-air battery will find its way into electric vehicles.

The zinc-air battery was developed by a firm called SINTEF in Norway and ReVolt was formed to market the battery. In a zinc-air battery, oxygen from room air is used to generate current. The air is used as an electrode and the battery contains an electrolyte and a zinc electrode in a casing that is porous and allows air inside. The zinc-air battery is much safer than lithium-ion batteries because there are no volatile materials inside the battery that could possibly catch fire.

The zinc-air battery produces electricity when the air electrode is discharged with the help of catalysts producing hydroxyl ions in the aqueous electrode. The zinc electrode then gets oxidized and releases electrons to form an electric current. When the battery is recharged, the process happens in reverse and oxygen is released into the air electrode.

The challenge for the researchers was to devise a method where the air electrolyte wasn’t deactivated in the recharging cycle to the point where the oxidation reaction slowed or stopped. The slowing or stopping of the oxidation reaction reduced the number of times that the zinc-air battery could be recharged.

Physorg reports that prototypes of the zinc-air battery have been tested through more than a hundred charge and discharge cycles. ReVolt hopes to increase the number of charge and discharge cycles to the 300 to 500 range. That number would make the batteries useful for cell phones and other electronic items that are recharged frequently.

The zinc-air batteries ReVolt is working on are also being developed for future use in electric vehicles. Before that point can be reached the batteries have to reach the point of being able to withstand up to 10,000 charge cycles.



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AA?
By ercinkc on 10/30/2009 11:26:44 AM , Rating: 3
So my biggest wish is that Lithium Ion batteries were available as standard rechargeable sizes. From my understanding the voltages are off to make that happen. Will these new batteries be able to be setup as AA, AAA, C and D sizes to replace the NIHM and NICAD battery standards?




RE: AA?
By Cogman on 10/30/2009 12:03:44 PM , Rating: 5
Lion rechargeable batteries will NEVER be available in standard rechargeable sizes. The risk of some moron overcharging and blowing up their battery is just far too great.

You would have to put a charge circuit on every battery, which just isn't feasible.

Overcharge a NIHM or CICAD battery, and you destroy the battery life a little. Overcharge a Li-Ion battery, and you have the potential for a fire/explosion.


RE: AA?
By Cogman on 10/30/2009 1:11:03 PM , Rating: 5
Down-rate me all you like. But that is the truth. Standard battery chargers are fairly dumb. And there are enough out there that just charge for x minutes that there is a serious risk for batteries li-ion batteries to explode.

Every appliance that has a Li-Ion battery in, has a charge circuit somewhere to ensure that the battery doesn't overcharge. When these circuits fail you get "Help, my IPod burned a hole in my seat"


RE: AA?
By lewislink on 10/30/2009 2:20:06 PM , Rating: 2
That's the point about dedicated gadget LIs, they have the extra added charge circuit. The AA, AAA, C and D types would need the same charging circuit the dedicated kind have. That would make them too costly.


RE: AA?
By Cypherdude1 on 11/1/2009 3:11:04 PM , Rating: 2
Hello,
could DailyTech do something about your {PRINT} feature? When I want to print out an article, I use Adobe Acrobat's print to PDF feature not paper, the entire article is shifted to the left. Please fix your {PRINT} feature.


RE: AA?
By straycat74 on 11/2/2009 8:27:08 AM , Rating: 2
It works just fine with doPDF.


RE: AA?
By Mint on 11/1/2009 2:36:18 AM , Rating: 2
Why not just integrate a tiny IC that shunts current away when it's charged? This is not a hard problem to solve.

Lithium ion doesn't makes sense for standard batteries. You pay extra for the lower weight per Wh, but the devices that use them aren't really meant for ultimate portability anyway due to the wasted space of AA/AAAs vs. custom battery packs.

To top it off, NiMH has higher volumetric energy density anyway, so Li-ion wouldn't even last as long. How many people would buy a battery that's more expensive and doesn't last as long per charge just because it's lighter?


RE: AA?
By Alexstarfire on 10/30/2009 1:17:45 PM , Rating: 3
Or you be a bit smarter and just do that for the actual charger. Yes, you'd have to get a new charger for the batteries, but they'd be rechargeable, and safe at that.


RE: AA?
By Bruneauinfo on 10/30/2009 2:17:11 PM , Rating: 5
yeah, except the battery is standard and "fits my old charger I bought at Radio Shack back in '92 just fine!!"

---BOOM!!


RE: AA?
By Alexstarfire on 10/30/2009 2:52:17 PM , Rating: 2
Put a warning on the battery pack and leave it at that. If people are stupid enough not to read first.... then darwinism takes effect. We've been stopping it for a while and you see what the outcome is.


RE: AA?
By lightfoot on 10/30/2009 3:20:16 PM , Rating: 5
A lithium fire is a fair bit more hazardous than "Warning: Coffee may be very hot."

Do you even know how to fight a lithium fire??


RE: AA?
By Shining Arcanine on 10/30/2009 3:23:41 PM , Rating: 5
Put water on it. You will probably win a darwin award for your quick thinking.


RE: AA?
By bobsmith1492 on 10/30/2009 3:42:18 PM , Rating: 3
We had a lithium thionyl chloride pack explode at work, a couple of desks over from me. It was bad, but there wasn't a problem putting out the fire (I stomped on some burning papers...)


RE: AA?
By Alexstarfire on 10/30/09, Rating: -1
RE: AA?
By PlasmaBomb on 10/31/2009 6:53:54 AM , Rating: 3
Cars don't typically catch fire when you are "charging" (fuelling) them... even if you over do it.


RE: AA?
By Alexstarfire on 10/31/09, Rating: 0
RE: AA?
By lightfoot on 11/2/2009 12:34:32 PM , Rating: 4
A gasoline fire can easily be put out using a standard CO2 fire extinguisher, or any extinguisher that is not a water extinguisher.

Lithium however will continue to burn in a 100% CO2 environment. Also water cannot be used because Lithium burns in water. Standard ABC fire extinguishers are useless on Lithium fires and may actually make them worse. Lithium is a hazardous material and must be put out using a Class D dry copper powdered metal extinguisher, or smothered using something like dry sand. (Class D copper metal extinguishers are not likely to be found in most homes, cars or fire engines.) Standard Class D dry chemical extinguishers may or may not work on a lithium fire depending on the size and location of the fire.

The best response for a lithium fire is to isolate the fire, and let it burn its self out.

Lithium fires are by far the worst type of fire to fight, even for trained professionals. Gasoline is trivial by comparison.


RE: AA?
By Integral9 on 11/3/2009 9:39:16 AM , Rating: 2
Curious, Will HALON work?


RE: AA?
By lightfoot on 11/3/2009 2:28:30 PM , Rating: 3
Not according to the FAA.
quote:
Halon 1301 is ineffective in suppressing a lithium battery fire.

quote:
Halon 1301 chemically interacts with the burning lithium and electrolyte-with no effect on fire intensity

http://www.fire.tc.faa.gov/pdf/systems/Lithium-ion...


RE: AA?
By Fritzr on 10/31/2009 2:53:52 AM , Rating: 3
Already have that problem today with alkalines. You can recharge those disposable batteries using an alkaline battery charger. Put an alkaline in a NiMH or NiCad charger and you will probably see a fire. People generally do not try that more than once. :D

The alkaline chargers are available, just hard to find, which leaves people with the impression that they are "use once and toss in the trash". Could really cut down on the number of batteries in the trash if alkaline chargers became more common, but battery manufacturers much prefer you buy new batteries instead :P


RE: AA?
By mindless1 on 10/31/2009 5:43:03 PM , Rating: 2
Make stuff up often? No, if you put alkalines in a NiMH/NiCad charger they will burst from pressure buildup but there won't be a fire. The difference is that the alkaline electrolyte isn't subject to combustion when exposed to air.

The issue of alkaline chargers is not that they're hard to find, it's that the battery itself also has to be contructed to allow charging and in being so designed they become inferior in performance relative to other alternatives like NiMH, Li-Ion, and they don't recharge to anywhere close to the possible fresh/new capacity.

If people wish to throw away fewer batteries there are other options like NIMH, particularly the low self discharge models like Sanyo Eneloops.


RE: AA?
By DragonMaster0 on 10/31/2009 8:34:11 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
If people wish to throw away fewer batteries there are other options like NIMH, particularly the low self discharge models like Sanyo Eneloops.
Those are great if you want to use them in low-power devices such as clocks or remotes, where standard NiMH batteries only last a few weeks, but the available capacity is nowhere near as good as the best NiMH batteries out there.


RE: AA?
By mindless1 on 10/31/2009 10:20:35 PM , Rating: 3
Ah, but it's not that simple. Eneloops maintain a higher voltage per state of charge so they may actually power devices longer.

The most energy dense NIMH batteries also self-discharge faster so it may take little more than a couple weeks to realize an equilibrium. Further lots of people have noticed the viable lifespan of the most energy dense NIMH is lower, you may easily get twice the recharge cycles from the newest version of Eneloops and I vaguely recall they upped their recharge cycle capability even more recently.

Certainly you are right that in a continual frequent use/rapid drain scenario, Eneloops aren't the highest capacity but that is an arbitrary way of looking at it, no matter what the capacity is someone will wish "if only it were a little higher".

I've bought plenty of highest-capacity-possible NIMH over the years but these days, only buy LSD NIMH. It is pretty liberating to not be a slave to batteries anymore, gone are the days when I have to do something like think to myself "Ok I want to use the camera today so now I have to go charge batteries", instead I can just grab a pair I charged at leisure months ago so they are what rechargables always sought to be, replacements for alkalines that are ready to use when you need them.


RE: AA?
By MrTeal on 10/30/2009 8:19:06 PM , Rating: 2
Except that Li-Ion and Li-Poly have cell voltages of 3.7V instead of 1.2V for Ni-MH. So even if the charger had the circuitry, you still wouldn't have be able to use them in the same devices as regular AAs.

They really do need to come out with an industry standard package for Li rechargeables, but it has to be difference than the existing letter standard.


RE: AA?
By mindless1 on 10/31/2009 5:46:07 PM , Rating: 2
There are industry standard packages for Li-Ion rechargeables and contrary to the thoughts of some, a few of these are similar enough in size they could be installed in the wrong devices. For example,

10440 Li-Ion 3.7V -> AAA size
14500 -> AA
25500 -> C

18650 -> No *common* alkaline equivalent but industry standard size for laptops, etc.


RE: AA?
By DragonMaster0 on 10/31/2009 8:28:53 PM , Rating: 3
A Li-Ion battery cell works at an average of 3.7V, and a minimum voltage of 2.4V. You simply can't make an AA battery out of that, unless you place a voltage converter in the cell, which would take up all the space and leave you with a battery no better than a NiMH.

quote:
The risk of some moron overcharging and blowing up their battery is just far too great.
No, it just won't charge.

quote:
You would have to put a charge circuit on every battery, which just isn't feasible.
Consumers can't buy a Li-Ion cell without a charge controller anyways.


RE: AA?
By Mint on 11/1/2009 4:16:40 AM , Rating: 2
Even if you had a tiny voltage converter (quite possible nowadays), it still wouldn't last longer than NiMH. Here's the data on Wikipedia (other sources are similar):

NiMH:
0.4 kJ/g
1.55 kJ/mL

Li-ion:
0.46-0.72 kJ/g
0.83-0.9 kJ/mL


RE: AA?
By shaw on 10/30/2009 2:11:21 PM , Rating: 2
They do make Li-Ion charges and batteries for purchase in standard sizes, but you have to search to find them.


RE: AA?
By SoCalBoomer on 10/30/2009 2:38:02 PM , Rating: 2
They make Lithium batteries in standard sizes - but they are NOT rechargeable.

standard sized rechargeable Li batteries may exist, but they are not commonly commercially available. The Li batteries that are commercially available are specifically NON rechargeable.


RE: AA?
By mindless1 on 10/31/2009 5:53:45 PM , Rating: 2
Correction - They make lithium-Ion batteries in standard sizes that are rechargeable, but they are not direct substitutes because of their higher per-cell voltage (3.0 to 3.7V typically).

For example, web search for "14500 Li-Ion", a rechargeable that is near enough the same size as an alkaline AA to fit in most devices physically (depending on whether there is a protection board on the end under the shrink wrap which makes them a little longer than without that circuit board).


RE: AA?
By Veerappan on 10/30/2009 5:01:24 PM , Rating: 2
It would be nice, but NiMH do at least a decent job, even if their capacity leaves something to be desired, and self-draining characteristics also are disappointing (I'm looking at you Energizer 2500mAh AA's).

So yeah, I'd like these, but I wouldn't be surprised if it required a new type of charger to be purchased.

Note: Also replying because I accidentally rated you down, and I hope this removes that.


RE: AA?
By Adul on 10/30/2009 5:18:29 PM , Rating: 3
try some sanyo enelop, I agree the energizer sucks.


Wow
By PublixE on 10/30/2009 10:21:31 AM , Rating: 1
If they can make it so it can recharge at least 5000 times it would make a very long lasting laptop battery. With the latest in miniaturization of processors and other parts of a laptop they could probably make a laptop that can last a whole day on a single charge.

I guess this solves the "there is only so much lithium in the world" problem.

Sweet!




RE: Wow
By HoundRogerson on 10/30/2009 10:30:14 AM , Rating: 1
Yeah, now we're on to burning through the supply of Zinc.


RE: Wow
By SublimeSimplicity on 10/30/2009 10:49:41 AM , Rating: 3
From the link, but not in the DT article:
quote:
The battery could also be repaired, by replacing failed parts such as the air electrode.


That to me makes all the difference in the world, even if they cost the same new and had the same capacity per pound, the fact that they're repairable lowers their cost of ownership significantly.


RE: Wow
By nafhan on 10/30/2009 11:48:54 AM , Rating: 5
Zinc is both more common in the earth's crust and much easier to recover (it's been used in making brass since ancient times).


RE: Wow
By BladeVenom on 10/30/2009 2:12:30 PM , Rating: 2
The bottom line is, zinc is cheap.


RE: Wow
By lightfoot on 10/30/2009 3:11:39 PM , Rating: 3
So cheap in fact that it is used in place of copper in US Pennies.


RE: Wow
By surt on 10/30/2009 12:25:19 PM , Rating: 5
We will not be running through the worldwide supply of zinc any time soon:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zinc#Occurrence


RE: Wow
By bbomb on 10/30/2009 2:30:35 PM , Rating: 2
We're human, give us a chance! If there is one thing humans are good at it is burning through any natural resource faster than it can be replenished and not realizing that until it is too late.


RE: Wow
By lightfoot on 10/30/2009 3:13:20 PM , Rating: 5
Unless we are discharging our used zinc into space, we will never run out; it can easily be recycled.


RE: Wow
By dark matter on 11/3/2009 5:05:14 AM , Rating: 2
After all the other guff I have been reading from armchair experts on the chemistry and physics of batteries this was the only worthy comment, and it made me laugh.

Double bonus!


RE: Wow
By yxalitis on 10/30/2009 7:13:12 PM , Rating: 1
Jimmy: Hey, what gives?
Jimmy's Dad: You said you wanted to live in a world without zinc Jimmy. Well now your car has no battery.
Jimmy: But I promised Betty I'd pick her up by 6:00. I better give her a call.
Jimmy's Dad: Sorry Jimmy. Without zinc for the rotary mechanism, there are no telephones.
Jimmy: Dear God! What have I done?
(Jimmy pulls out a gun and points it to his head and fires)
Jimmy's Dad: Think again Jimmy. You see the firing pin in your gun was made out of…yep…zinc.
Jimmy: Come back zinc, Come Back!!


RE: Wow
By AssBall on 10/30/2009 10:53:36 AM , Rating: 2
By the time we run out of lithium we will be ready to start fusing our own supply. It will be a waste product.


RE: Wow
By nafhan on 10/30/2009 2:06:41 PM , Rating: 2
Actually, while looking at stuff about lithium, I noticed that stable lithium isotopes are NOT easy to synthesize via fusion. That's why despite being the third heaviest element, after hydrogen and helium:
quote:
It is not until atomic number 36 (krypton) and beyond that chemical elements are found to be universally less common in the cosmos than lithium
(from wiki). Pretty interesting.


RE: Wow
By marvdmartian on 10/30/2009 11:50:08 AM , Rating: 2
Dang, I wonder.....if they used all the hot air that's manufactured in Washington DC, would that make the batteries 4 times the energy?? Maybe 5??? ;)


RE: Wow
By Kibbles on 10/30/2009 5:03:44 PM , Rating: 3
Actually it's the shelf life that kills most lithium batteries. A brand new lithium polymer battery can be discharge-charged about 400 times. Even a properly stored battery will loose about 2% of its max capacity per year.

The worst thing for those batteries is heat, and guess what, your laptop get hot. Then throw in a couple of baking sessions in the car and you get a dead battery in less than a year that's barely had 100 charges.

Most people probably don't even use the laptop without the powercord. If you aren't using the battery, you should store it. Charge it to about 60% charge, put it in a ziplock bag, and put it in the fridge (not the freezer).


RE: Wow
By Jeffk464 on 10/30/2009 10:38:25 PM , Rating: 2
Negative nellys. The more companies working on more solutions the better. It increases the chance that we will reach a really good replacement for gasoline. I say the more the merrier. Of course I pitty the fools who invest a ton of money in the loosing tech.


iPhone
By ksherman on 10/30/2009 10:29:14 AM , Rating: 1
Just in time to give the iPhone a killer feature: crazy awesome battery life! Now Apple can afford the power for the dual-core Cortex processor :)




RE: iPhone
By 67STANG on 10/30/2009 10:51:53 AM , Rating: 4
Or they can just keep their current setup and it would last almost 2 hours without having to recharge!


RE: iPhone
By bhieb on 10/30/2009 11:05:15 AM , Rating: 2
Nah they will wait until 5 years AFTER everyone else has perfected the process. Then rebrand it and sell it as something NEW and exciting. **cough** Copy/Paste, SMS, 3G...


RE: iPhone
By peritusONE on 10/30/2009 1:46:22 PM , Rating: 2
That's what I was thinking.

"We know what our customers want, and they don't want longer battery life." ~ Jobs


RE: iPhone
By SpaceJumper on 10/30/2009 12:06:17 PM , Rating: 2
With an additional half an hour extra!!


Hybrid Battery Approach Viable?
By Shig on 10/30/2009 10:56:28 AM , Rating: 2
A combination of these new batteries with lithium ion could be interesting. For example, only the zinc-air batteries get turned on past a certain distance, then for short distances the lithium-ion is used. That could be a cheaper way to extend the range of electric vehicles without as much added cost.




RE: Hybrid Battery Approach Viable?
By rcc on 10/30/2009 11:23:36 AM , Rating: 2
If the Zinc-Air battery is cheaper and lasts 3 times a long, and is repairable, then where is the advantage to combining them with Lithium-Ions???? Population control??


RE: Hybrid Battery Approach Viable?
By Cogman on 10/30/2009 12:00:34 PM , Rating: 3
It depends on what the discharge/recharge rate of the zinc ion battery is. We know that Li-ion batteries have a fairly small internal resistance which translates into quick discharge/recharge times (Think, regenerative breaking). But if the Zinc Ion batteries don't, then it would make sense to use them for long range power and the Li-Ion batteries for the short range.

One other thing I would like to know is at what rate do these batteries self-discharge. Hopefully it is about as good as Lion, because having to recharge something if you use it or not kind of sucks.

Personally I think this is great news for the electric car. This is the exact type of battery system that needed to come into play. My biggest complaint about electric cars was the fact that their range was about 100 miles. This could potentially boost that range to the 300+ range which would be about where I need it to be to consider an electric car.


RE: Hybrid Battery Approach Viable?
By Shig on 10/30/2009 6:19:17 PM , Rating: 2
Limited # of recharges...


Wow
By Totally on 10/30/2009 11:30:25 AM , Rating: 5
South American countries playing hardball with their lithium deposits just dicked themselves by holding out.




RE: Wow
By ClownPuncher on 10/30/2009 11:36:36 AM , Rating: 2
Take that Bolivia! Anyway, supply and demand...


RE: Wow
By Bruneauinfo on 10/30/2009 2:20:18 PM , Rating: 2
not like battery manufacturers are just going to drop Lithium batteries completely after all that investment. you can still buy NiCads


does elevation change their efficiency?
By kattanna on 10/30/2009 11:36:44 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
In a zinc-air battery, oxygen from room air is used to generate current


i wonder since there is a lower oxygen content at higher elevations, if the battery loses efficiency at higher altitudes.




By SpaceJumper on 10/30/2009 12:15:50 PM , Rating: 2
The capacity is the same. Zinc-air electrical sourcing current capability will be reduced at high altitude but it will run longer at the reduced power. The generator side is reduced but no change in the internal series resistance, the Zinc plates resistance. The internal resistance is the part that causes the reduction in the efficiency.


RE: does elevation change their efficiency?
By heulenwolf on 10/30/2009 12:44:56 PM , Rating: 2
Good point. According to the CIA Factbook page on Switzerland - https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world... - where the articles says the batteries were developed, its mostly mountainous and not exactly a low-elevation country. Hopefully, they've taken elevation and variable oxygen density into account in their design.

One question I have on safety of recharging: if charging produces oxygen, could that create a dangerous situation at vehicle charging stations with lots of charging going on? Presumably, due to being outside, it would allow for dissipation. What about an indoor situation such as a mass battery charger for radios?


By Shining Arcanine on 10/30/2009 3:22:20 PM , Rating: 1
I think that the dangerous situation exists for our gasoline powered vehicles, especially when you fuel many of them, and not for electric vehicles powered by zinc-oxide batteries. Oxygen is present in the air we breathe and the more of it there is, the better it is for us.


Minor correction.
By gstrickler on 10/30/2009 10:17:02 AM , Rating: 4
quote:
First rechargeable zinc-air batteries will hit next year in small form factors
Zinc-air batteries aren't new, they've been used in hearing aids for years. Rechargeable zinc-air batteries are new.




RE: Minor correction.
By Oregonian2 on 10/30/2009 1:49:42 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, hearing aide batteries have been zinc-air "forever", and they're great batteries. The big fault that they had is that they have a tape seal over the air-intake hole that has to be removed before the battery is "activated" -- and once activated they have a good, but fixed lifetime before they're gone (which will happen whether used or not).

PS - also takes an hour or so for the battery to activate once the air opening is uncovered.


By CZroe on 10/31/2009 9:53:23 AM , Rating: 2
I'm still hoping for a huge breakthrough in ultra-capacitors. Why? In a fuel-burning car, you run out of fuel and it only takes minutes to top back up and continue on to your destination. In an electrical vehicle, unless recharge times are significantly shortened, your destination better be within that range because your range effectively ENDS unless you plan to spend time recharging high-capacity battery packs. Even within range, your destination has to have the capacity to recharge and get you home or else your range is further halved. If you spend 8hrs at work, that may be plenty of time to charge for the trip back, but what if you were picking the kids up from school or only spending half an hour in the grocery store?

Keep in mind, while the range problem halving if your destination has no recharge capacity may not be a problem in the future, recharge time to extend your range still may be. Think about it... there may be a "hydrogen highway" for refueling hydrogen powered vehicles to cross the state of CA, but anything like that for straight EVs would still either require many multi-hour pit stops for recharging or swapping an expended cell for a pre-charged one.

Ultra-capacitors, on the other hand, may charge faster than a typical vehicle even could refuel.




By mindless1 on 10/31/2009 6:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
There won't be a huge breakthrough with ultracapacitors very soon, and the problem with charging them as quickly as you'd like is that the infrastructure to supply such massive amounts of current won't be cheap, in both delivery to the (automobile) and it's supportive recharge/safety circuitry.

If it weren't for these factors, today's electric cars would already be recharging much faster than they do. Consider that generally speaking given good sensing and protection circuitry, you can recharge as fast as you can discharge minus a few percent, meaning if your car can drain the battery in 2 hours or less (consider highway driving at 70MPH, that's already 140 miles), the battery is theoretically capable of recharge in little more than that but is actually capable of even faster recharge as the discharge limit wasn't the battery it was the motor and speed limit.


By CZroe on 10/31/2009 6:48:56 PM , Rating: 2
Who wants to spend a "little more than two hours" refueling their car every two hours in a cross-country trip? That'll turn a two-day trip into a week!

Anyway, an slowly charged ultracapacitor could quickly charge another ultracapacitor. The massive discahge could be handled with a massive connection or made up of many connections to many smaller ultracapacitor cells. It could also be regulated. Just because it's possible to charge all at once but unsafe doesn't mean that you have to find a safe way to do it all at once... you don't try to dump 10 gallons in your car simultaneously. Also, the fill-up isn't instant, but it is fast (compared to charging a battery). Charging an ultracapacitor, similarly, just needs to be somewhat more comparable to filling up vs charging. That means it could take, say, 10 mins instead of a 5min fill up or two hour+ charge.

IMAGINATION!


How long...
By amanojaku on 10/30/2009 11:32:39 AM , Rating: 5
Until Sony figures out how to make these explode? Place yer bets!




What if ...
By drycrust on 10/30/2009 2:39:58 PM , Rating: 2
What happens if the battery gets wet while charging? Will it react with the water and release Hydrogen? How efficient will this process be? Could you run a car on it? "Darn, why does someone always ring me when I'm refuelling the car"

Bye Bye iGrenade, Hello iCar?




RE: What if ...
By Alexstarfire on 10/30/2009 3:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
From the way it looks like the battery works I will say that if the battery gets wet nothing will happen, except perhaps stop charging. It will not and can not react with water. It's pulling Oxygen that's already in the air to use. It's not separating Oxygen out of anything. Yes, you could run your car on it eventually, but you didn't comprehend the article very well since it mentions that. And I don't see how this could make your car explode with a cell phone. Cell phones don't make sparks big enough, especially these days, and there would be nothing for it to spark to. You have a better chance of an "iCar," as you put it, on a gas powered car than you'd ever have on a car powered by these batteries.


RE: What if ...
By Chocobollz on 11/1/2009 12:59:54 PM , Rating: 1
And what if I fart over it? Will it explode?


Technical specs ?
By William Gaatjes on 10/30/2009 4:32:39 PM , Rating: 2
I am being lazy i know, but what are the technical specifications ?

What is the voltage, maximum continous current, maximum peak current, anything ?




By omgwtf8888 on 10/30/2009 3:55:35 PM , Rating: 3
If these zinc air batteries are anything like the ones used in hearing aids were all doomed. Grandma always forgets to change those dam hearing aid batteries then runs around deaf. I can imagine these old folks cars stalled out everywhere blocking all the traffic lanes. Vast seas of cars honking and people screaming at the old people. "DID YOU CHARGE YOUR CAR GRANDMA!" Eh! what's that my hearing aid is dead....




If it works
By bobsmith1492 on 10/30/2009 3:40:48 PM , Rating: 2
This could be an amazing breakthrough.

According to the Handbook of Batteries, zinc-air has a theoretical energy density of 415mWh/g or 1450 Wh/L. Li-ion exhibits energy density of 160mWh/g or 430Wh/L.

So, zinc-air is both lighter and more dense than Li-ion cells by approximately 3 times, as the article states.

However, this is comparing a secondary (rechargeable) Li-ion with a primary zinc-air since there was no rechargeable zinc-air available when the book was written. So, it remains to be seen how much impact the addition of the charge mechanism has on the energy density of the cells.

Zinc air will also be sensitive to the operating environment air. It remains to be seen which air impurities may affect the lifespan of rechargeable cells; I don't see any information about that in the handbook.

Regarding performance at altitude, there is a plot showing the impact of extra air holes in existing hearing aid zinc-air cells; basically once there is a certain amount of air available, the output current is relatively constant. So, if cells are designed with more than enough air flow, any reasonable altitude should show no change.

Temperature is another consideration; all chemical processes slow with temperature so I'm sure output will drop when it's cold.




By tygrus on 10/30/2009 6:31:52 PM , Rating: 2
The original zinc-air bateries are primary cells ie. Non-re-chargable like Duracell & Energizer. What is new is being able to recharge this new version of zinc-air.

Not the "first zinc-air battery" but the "first re-chargeable zinc-air battery".




By ElFenix on 10/31/2009 12:12:04 PM , Rating: 2
i've got a pack of them sitting in a drawer for my old cameras.

the real breakthrough is a recharging method, but i had to read to the 6th paragraph before i found that out. wtg, DT




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