A system to boost the lifetime of batteries by 400 times has been ‘discovered’ by accident by a team of researchers. Their work is published in the journal Energy Letters.
The best batteries currently available might soon be surpassed by a revolutionary system that would make them last up to 400 times longer. The efficiency of the new batteries would extend over 200,000 charge cycles. This means they would be lasting over a lifetime. This also means that your smartphones, laptops, and even spacecrafts might see much better days.
Oh, wait, the fact that the researchers ‘stumbled on’ the system by accident implies that they are not quite sure as to how it works. What happened is that they were making solid-state batteries using an electrolyte gel instead of a liquid, and then found out from the results that they “weren’t going to die”, explained lead author Reginald Penner from the University of California in a statement to Popular Science. However, they do not fully grasp the mechanism behind their results that led to the unprecedented system.
Electricity is stored in gold nanowires (thinner than a human hair) that hang in the electrolyte gel. This system has proved to be much more resilient than any other known system of battery.
Co-author Mya Le Thai is the one to have added the electrolyte gel which seems to be the magic ingredient. Furthermore, Mya also coated the nanowires with manganese oxide.
“Mya was playing around, and she coated this whole thing with a very thin gel layer and started to cycle it,” said Penner. “She discovered that just by using this gel, she could cycle it hundreds of thousands of times without losing any capacity.”
“That was crazy,” he added, “because these things typically die in dramatic fashion after 5,000 or 6,000 or 7,000 cycles at most.”
As mentioned above, the system was resilient even after 200,000 charge cycles. It only lost 5% of its capacity thereafter. This pretty much gives you an idea of how powerful it is.
It is to be noted that this system does not (yet) constitute a battery. Shifting it into an actual battery to be used in smartphones and laptops might result in something less efficient, or it might not even work at all. Oh, and did you notice that gold is needed? This means the batteries made in this way would undoubtedly be expensive.
Well, well, well, let us first find out whether this type of battery will be made into a thing or not, and then let’s decide whether we should complain about the price!