Emerging Battery Technologies Offer Positive Energy Outlook

Scientists and researchers have plenty of ideas for innovative battery technologies, but commercializing these plans often proves troublesome and expensive. However; rising energy costs, diminishing fossil fuels, and increasing usage of electronic devices make the need for more efficient batteries critical to economic development. Clean energy from efficient energy storage systems is becoming more important every day.

Consumers in the United States operate more than two billion electronic devices with batteries, so scale-ups in production and energy storage capacities offer benefits for communication, businesses, recreational activities, entertainment and transportation. Researchers are making progress in delivering batteries with greater storage capacities, lower costs and greater reliability.

1. Lithium-ion Batteries

Electric automobiles use advanced lithium-ion batteries because these cells store more energy in smaller spaces, making hybrid and electric vehicles more efficient. This higher storage capacity helps cars run faster and increases mileage between recharges because lighter energy-cell weights make vehicle more efficient. Smaller versions of lithium-ion batteries power consumer electronics products such as mobile devices, laptop computers and touch-screen phones.

2. Nanotechnology Batteries

Lightweight super-capacitors and nano-particles generate electric charges on paper and fabrics, offering the real possibility of powering small electronics and other electrical applications with paper or textile batteries. Inks infused with carbon nano-tubes and silver nano-wires can harness energy in lightweight, bendable batteries.

3. Bacteria Batteries

Scientists have researched uses for bacteria that include producing bio-fuels and batteries. Recent engineering advances make the prospect of microbial fuel cells a genuine possibility.

4. Air-fueled Batteries

Internal combustion engines in vehicles only need batteries to start the cars and run stereos and air conditioners, but the batteries in electric cars need to run everything. Electric car technology depends on how efficient scientists and engineers can make batteries. Researchers from St. Andrews University, Strathclyde and Newcastle have tested an air-fueled battery that stores 10 times more energy than conventional batteries.
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  • The air-fueled cell uses porous carbon to draw oxygen from the air.
  • Oxygen from the ambient air replaces other compounds, reducing the need for storage capacity and excess weight.
  • The resulting sustainable cycle of charge and discharge increases energy storage capacity by 500–1000 percent over lithium batteries.


5. Plastic Solar Cells

Solar batteries help to store the energy for solar power collectors so that consumers can power devices when the sun doesn't shine. Sealed and almost maintenance-free, these batteries produce clean energy without any corrosive fumes and carbon emissions. However, the cost of silicon-based solar cells make these solar systems expensive to build. Research into alternative materials for solar cells focuses on organics and plastics to create flexible, portable solar-collector sheets.
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  • Lower costs of plastics or organic materials would cut investment costs of harnessing clean solar power.
  • The use of plastics would allow solar power to run diverse applications instead of being limited by rooftop solar panels.
  • Solar cells and batteries made of thin plastics could power laptops, yard equipment, and other portable devices.


Balancing Economic Growth with Environmental Responsibility

Clean battery energy reduces ambient pollution in urban environments, cuts fossil fuel usage and strengthens technology that is independent of utility connections. Increasing use of mobile devices, decoupling economic growth from fossil fuels, and generating sustainable energy supplies challenge the engineering skills of scientists, governments and energy industries. Emerging battery technologies offer some of the most positive solutions for supplying future energy needs.