A recently completed scientific study will revolutionize the makeup of lithium ion batteries. It seems that what scientists have assumed is the slowest part of the chemical reaction in the battery is wrong, and it has been wrong for years. Batteries have been designed with the intention of increasing the speed of this reaction, thus speeding up the battery process, hopefully leading to increased voltage output. The mystery is as the chemical reaction time was decreased by new designs, the reaction times were not improved; this was especially true at high and low voltage use of the battery.
In a process long used, but perhaps not fully understood, current has been used to assist electroplating and the operation of batteries. The system involves an electrolyte base fluid, usually an acid that has a specially coated plate, usually with carbon, dipped into it. When voltage is applied, a current is developed by the ions from the fluid being attracted to the compound on the plate. When the current is stopped, the reaction reverses, with the acid attracting the ions back into solution. Eventually, the battery will wear out due to fluid loss or rusting of the plates in the battery. The electrodes are porous, meaning they have open areas in their structure that allow for the collecting of electrons in the material that makes up the electrode. The carbon does not change during this process. Lithium ion batteries make use of this process.
In general, if you want to improve the reaction time of a chemical compound, you need to speed up the processes that show everything down. It was long thought the event that controlled the speed of these reactions in lithium ion batteries, the limiting factor, was the speed by which the ions travel from the solution to solid compound on the plate. There are a series of equations, Butler-Volmer equations, developed in the 1930s that can predict the time loss involved in this process. This allows a battery to be designed for optimal ion flow. Or, until recently, so it was thought.
It turns out this theory fails to predict the correct speed flows at parts of the lithium ion battery operation, and these are critical areas such as low and high voltage of the batteries. As lithium ion batteries have become more capable of generating higher voltages, the more the Butler-Volmer equations were out of line. Now, two professors at MIT, Peng Bai and Martin Bazant, have found out why. They have developed a method to measure the speeds of the transfers that occur during the reactions in the battery. It turns out that the ion transfer is not really the limiting factor in this reaction, although it can appear that way at some voltages. The real limiting factor is actually the electronic transfer between the solid layers of the plates. This is the transfer between the plate compound and the its coating. The transfer of ions in solution is almost instantaneous under all circumstances, so does not actually limit the battery in any way.
To truly design lithium ion batteries to reflect the actions at the atomic level, a new set of equations is needed. These reactions are described by the Marcus-Hush-Chidsey equations of electron transfer. This new information will be considered in all future lithium ion batteries and should lead to more efficient batteries that can produce higher currents. It could make battery charged cars much more of a reality than is possible at the current time.
Cars aren’t the only thing making the switch from gas to electricity. From lawnmowers to entire power plants, the gas engine is being replaced by batteries for a more efficient way of powering items.
Let’s examine why some items run better with batteries before looking at the numerous items being redesigned to work on electricity.
Batteries and the use of electricity represents a better solution for many things over combustion engines. Electrical items provide the same mobility as traditional tools, but they’re quieter, produce less heat and tend to be more efficient in their usage of energy than their fossil fuel-burning counterparts.
Depending upon where you live, the use of electricity in place of gasoline may be more convenient and cheaper. You only need to plug the battery in to the wall to recharge it, which means that there’s no reason to run to the gas station.
You now have a general idea as to why electricity can work better, which makes it possible to understand the practical use of batteries in place of gasoline.
Let’s examine some of the battery powered items that were formerly powered by combustion.
The most common designs for gas-powered leaf blowers have them sucking in air through the sides to cool the engine before forcing it out the front. This 90-degree turn brings a significant amount of waste into the equation due to the heightened amount of air resistance experienced.
Battery powered leaf blowers, due to the decreased amount of heat produced during their operation, don’t require this. They can use the most efficient path for air to travel, which is straight from the back to the front, which means that they require less energy to operate.
Most trimmers employed in edging lawns are bulky or burdensome. Gas lawn trimmers are heavy, while electric trimmers tend to enjoy less mobility without miles of extension cord.
Lawn trimmers that work on batteries enjoy the unique advantage of being up to 28-percent lighter than their gas-powered counterparts. Because they use batteries, you can charge them and use them until they run dry. This can make yard work easier than ever before.
If you’ve ever tried to start a gas-powered chainsaw, you’ve likely found that it takes several tries before the motor fires up.
Battery powered chainsaws can start on the first press of the button. When they incorporate the use of lithium-ion batteries, they can continue to run long enough to trim branches and cut down several trees.
Gas-powered lawn mowers are loud, dangerous and tend to become less reliable as they age. This means that you have to deal with costly maintenance of the combustion system, while still needing to maintain the actual parts of the mower responsible for trimming your grass.
Electric lawn mowers circumvent a number of these problems. Because they operate on batteries, they can go anywhere. With enough capacity in their batteries, they can handle large, rugged lawns while adding significantly less noise pollution. Your neighbors may not even hear you mow with one.
Solar energy is free and produces markedly less greenhouse emissions than combustion engines. Their only problem is that these systems only produce energy while the sun is visible.
To circumvent this and to replace things like diesel generators, batteries are being used to store electricity until it needs to be used. This enables a cleaner, quieter and more efficient way to produce electricity.
The largest consumer of gas and other combustibles are the things used to produce electricity: power plants. They share the same pitfalls that tools using combustion engines do, but they apply to a much larger scale.
Combustion plants work in such a way that they produce a certain amount of electricity based on the amount of fuel put in to them. This requires utility companies to constantly monitor and regulate how much energy gets produced to reduce waste.
Smart electricity companies are scaling back on their power plants to use large batteries in their stead. This allows their plants to run continuously, which in turn allows for less electricity to be wasted.
People are growing increasingly reliant on their smartphones and other technology to navigate the world. However, these sleek pieces of engineering become nothing more than bricks when they do not have sufficient power. Below are five of the best solutions in the form of portable chargers for this common nuisance.
This is one of the best portable chargers that can be used to store files on the go, as well as for charging a phone or other portable devices. It is 1.9 ounces, making it small enough to conveniently store in a pocket or backpack for emergency power and file storage when necessary. It has a 1,200 mAh battery, which, for comparison, is able to power 85% of an iPhone 5. The PowerStick II can be plugged right into a USB port to gain power or to provide power to a phone, meaning that no cables are needed to be used, reducing the amount of clutter that a person needs to carry around. It also remains highly affordable at a mere $49.
The Tylt Energi 5K portable chargers come with space inside of them that can be used to store its own cords. The cords that it requires are a micro-USB cord and a Lightning cord. The capacity of this battery is 5,200 mAh, more than enough energy to power several different devices for an extended period of time. These portable chargers cost $90 each.
This is one of the most powerful portable chargers that is available on the market. It has 7,500 mAh and can be used to charge a number of different devices. It’s main capability, however, is to provide a high enough burst of energy that it will be able to jump start a car. This battery is able to be recharged by sticking it into the cigarette lighter part of a car that is usually located near the front. In order to use this battery, a person will need to have jump starter cables. This portable charger costs $130, but well worth the cost as it tends to be a much more convenient option than finding a helpful hand when you find yourself stuck with a dead car battery.
This portable charger consists of a two battery unit that is fully swappable with one another. The smaller one has a capacity of 3,000 mAh, which is more than enough to power a regular smartphone for a decent period of time and result in it being fully charged. The larger of the two batteries has a capacity of 12,000 mAh and can be used to fully charge a tablet, which tends to require and use a great deal more power. This portable charger starts at around $40. This product is best for those who need to charge multiple different devices at the same time, usually while they are travelling.
This universal portable power pack with charger and battery provides 4 to 5 charges of instant back-up power. It can be used with many devices including Sony PSP, Blackberry, and other mini USB powered devices. The device accepts existing USB cables to power, but also offers tip packages that support LG, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, Palm Treo, and more. It has an output voltage of 5V and amperage of 2400mAh. It’s smaller than an iPhone, which makes it incredibly portable and lightweight.