Building Better Batteries
Reported November 2011
BOULDER, CO (Ivanhoe Newswire) --Everyone knows the frustration of having a battery die right when you need it. Now researchers have created a new battery with more power, so you can talk, type, or even drive longer. We report on why it really is the battery that keeps going and going, and going./p>
They power our phones, our computers, even our cars. But batteries have one big downside, they die! And it’s usually way to soon and at the worst possible time. Chemist Amy Prieto and her colleagues at Colorado State University are working to change that.
"If you could make one really good battery, you could put it into a bunch of different areas and really impact people's lives,” Amy Prieto, a chemist at Colorado State University told Ivanhoe.
That's just what Prieto did. Calculations predict this prototype battery has a 1,000 higher power density, lasts 10 times longer, can be charged an unlimited amount of times and is a third of the cost of current lithium ion batteries.
"The key to our battery is it's very high surface area,” Prieto said.
A high surface area means it will charge faster. The battery is made up of three main parts: an anode-made of tiny copper nanowires, a cathode-made from a rubber-like material, and an electrolyte-made of plastic that separates the anode from the cathode. Nanowires increase the battery’s performance and are so small that 25 million of them can fit on the surface of a penny.
"So, they're really tiny, that surface area is about 10,000-times higher, so that's where you get this power from,” Prieto explained.
Researchers will first test the battery on electric bikes then smart phones, and one day everything from pacemakers to electric cars.
"A battery could really revolutionize a lot of areas,” Prieto concluded.
It’s an invention that could be on the market and available to you by next year.
Prieto says they are sending out prototypes of the battery to be tested in the next six months. Then they will try to get it on the market quickly. She also points out that this new battery is less toxic than current models and is better on the environment.
The American Physical Society contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report.
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Department of Chemistry
Colorado State University
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