Tap Tap Tech Episode 6 - Battery Technology

By Onlinecomponents.com |

Tap Tap Tech - Battery Technology

Hey there, Josh here for OnlineComponents.com, this is Tap Tap Tech. Today, we’re going to discuss battery technology. This surprisingly interesting topic has wide implications in every facet of life. From storage for renewable energy to phone battery packs, batteries are everywhere and they're extremely important. While primary batteries are still important, secondary, or rechargeable batteries are what interest me now.

It seems we're always on the cusp of some new and crazy awesome battery technology. But currently, and for the last nearly twenty years, the most popular rechargeable battery types are lead acid, lithium ion, and the very similar lithium ion polymer, and nickel metal hydride. Nickel cadmium seems like its on its way out though it still is great in its niches, but other battery types besides these four don't have much of a market share.

In the world of smart phones, the LiPo battery is king but it is a somewhat despised king. According to extremely reputable sources on the internet, battery life for most people is a highly prized, and frequently, highly aggravating part of owning a smart phone. I can certainly agree because my slightly older than two year old phone can't go 14 hours of normal use without being charged.

So, what are battery developers fighting? Why don't we have the perfect batteries yet that last weeks for a phone? Or huge batteries tied to solar arrays to keep us powered throughout the night? The problem is, it's a balancing act on top of straight-up engineering feats.

Here are a few of the things that designers need to balance - power density, energy density, size, weight, time to charge, how many times it can be recharged before it dies, cost, materials used and toxicity, memory effects, and whether or not the battery will kill people if used incorrectly. Combine this with requiring an intimate knowledge of chemistry and I'm out. So, while I'm all for complaining and demanding better batteries, understand that it is not a simple matter. For me, though, I'm going to be nice to the battery designers because, once they crack the problem and make their hundreds of millions of dollars, they may remember me and invite me on their yachts. It could happen.

*Things to consider*
* Power density
* Energy density
* Size / weight
* Time to charge / discharge (related to power density)
* How frequently you can recharge before death (not applicable to primary batteries)
* Cost
* Materials used / toxicity
* Memory effects
* General safety

NiMH and NiCd AA, AAA batteries run at 1.2 V, not 1.5 V, which is fine in a lot of cases, but not all cases. My wireless keyboard, for example, requires primary batteries, which drives me crazy.

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