Seventeen hours is the most that the battery on a top-of-the-line laptop can last; on most laptops, it’s closer to three hours. Thirteen hours of continuous use is the longest that a smartphone can go. Even low-use devices such as security system sensors require their batteries changed once every three years or so (according to the ADT security system sensor replacement battery guide, to go by one example).
While battery technologies certainly have seen incremental improvements, there have been no revolutionary technologies that have doubled or tripled battery capacity in decades. As consumers have turned ever more reliant on their devices, it is battery technology that has proven the bottleneck. Changes are afoot, however. There is a lot that is about to change over the next couple of years.
A tripling of battery capacity
A recent paper published in Nature Nanotechnology describes a technology that makes use of pure lithium anodes. The use of pure lithium allows for batteries that are lighter and smaller than with current technology, but with three times the capacity. With pure lithium, energy is far more efficiently stored and transferred.
There are risks involved, however — pure lithium is known to grow unstable with even slight levels of damage. It also tends to lose ability to store charge after a mere 150 charge-drain cycles.
Recent breakthroughs at Stanford, however have brought about a technology with a 99% charge efficiency level maintainable over hundreds of cycles. The improvement is made possible through a nano technology innovation named nano spheres. The new battery technology makes use of protective layers of nano spheres over each lithium anode.
Now, it’s possible to look forward to that threefold increase in battery life in the near future.
There are other ways to help improve battery life
Ultra-rapid chargers: Companies such as StoreDot have been working for years on a technology capable of charging phone batteries in 30 seconds. Such rapid charging even makes batteries last longer than the two or so years of expected life currently seen. Commercial launch is expected in the fourth quarter of the year 2017.
Supercapacitors: A capacitor is an electronic component that stores high-voltage current. Most designs, however, only manage to store enough current to last a fraction of a second. Recent design enhancements, however, have shown the capacitor to be capable of radical improvements. There has even been a product launch. The Blueshift Bamboo speaker charges in a minute, and allows six hours of use.
There are dozens of other improvements in labs on the verge of turning commercial reality. From thermoelectric generators to solar charging panels, the future of battery technology is exciting, indeed.
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