Ionic battery could provide days of computing
A new kind of battery in development could help netbooks last six times longer on a charge.
These so-called Metal Air Ionic Liquid batteries are being researched by Fluidic Energy, a spinoff of Arizona State University that’s received $5.13 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.
A report in Technology Review says the tech is being eyed for electric cars, but JK On the Run did some rough math and found that a laptop could gain six times the battery life from ionic technology compared to lithium ion — the standard for most notebooks today — in a Toshiba NB205 computer.
There are other benefits, too. Compared to a lithium ion battery of the same size, Fluidic Energy says ionic batteries could be made for a third of the cost. And instead of using an aqueous solution as its electrolyte, ionic batteries use salts that are liquid at room temperature. As a result, they don’t evaporate and fail prematurely, and they can be stored in a larger range of temperatures.
The main obstacle is cost. Even though ionic batteries are cheaper to build in theory, there’s currently no process in place to produce the ionic liquids in bulk, and there are different kinds of liquids that can be used, with competing groups vying for the best solution.
In addition to notebooks, I’d like to see better battery technology scale down to smartphones as well. Both the iPhone and Motorola’s new Droid can barely make it through a day, if at all, and charging them is inconvenient compared to notebooks, which might be situated near an outlet anyway. It’s not clear when ionic batteries will become real products, but if they’re the real deal, I hope all consumer electronics products will benefit.
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