Improvement in battery technology has been underway since Benjamin Franklin coined the term, battery. Thomas Edison devoted considerable resources to developing a better lead acid battery and he invented the alkaline storage battery.
While semiconductor technology is consistently generating improvement in capabilities along the lines of Moore’s Law, battery storage technology has not and we have reached a point where the next generation of portable electronics will need considerable improvement in battery technology. As a result, nanotechnology is being considered as a source of these needed improvements in areas such as microfluidics and electrowetting.
Batteries fall into two types: primary cells which are the most common battery type being single use and disposable; and secondary batteries which are rechargeable and found in cell phones and laptops.
One of the biggest issues in batteries is “leakage current” where batteries are constantly discharging and ultimately go dead because their electrodes are in contact with the chemical electrolytes. There have been batteries designed to keep the electrolyte and electrodes separate until activation however these have been too expensive for general consumer products.
Using nanotechnologies, next generation battery technology is being developed to allow precise control at submicroscopic levels of the flow of the electrolytic liquids to the electrodes. At the center of this technology is a thin silicon chip membrane that not only separates the liquids from the electrodes, it also has properties that repel or attract the electrolytic fluid.
Under long term storage situations, the membrane repels the fluid so there is no discharge of current. When the battery needs to be put to use, a brief charge is applied to the silicon chip membrane which causes the repelling properties to disappear and then the electrolytic fluid starts flowing through the pores of the silicon chip and coming into contact with the electrode thereby supplying power.
These advances are being applied to military applications that need miniature power sources that can provide up to 30 years of uninterrupted power. Another military application is for smart munitions where the power source is integrated into the munition and kept inert until the projectile is launched. At the moment of firing, the G-forces of being launched, allow the repelling charge on the membrane to be reversed. Electrolytic fluid goes through the pores of the silicon chip membrane coming into contact with the electrodes thereby generating power for onboard telemetry systems so that trajectories can be tracked and corrected.
There are many other applications for this type of next generation battery technology in fields such as smart grids, environmental cleanup, water purification, disaster preparedness and medical devices. Additional markets include life vest beacons, backup power supplies, and carbon monoxide and fire alarm sensors.
Any future developments around smart grid power infrastructure will require many monitoring stations. These stations will need to be operational even during periods of power failure to enable routing of electricity so emergency power sources for such a grid will need to be highly reliable and capable of providing long-term storage.
I trust this post is providing some background and evidence that nanotechnology is changing the way we view portable energy storage and that significant progress is being made. Consumer products using these advanced battery technologies are starting to be available in flashlights designed by Porsche with regular and reserve batteries, through retail distribution chains.
In closing, I favor a quote from Steve Forbes. Forbes says that pursuing additional financial education and the resulting increase in our financial literacy (including the investment potential of breakthrough technology) will open our eyes to alternative wealth creating strategies and this will be they key to resolving our financial crisis.
To gain the necessary financial education, it is best to obtain association with, access to, and membership in a wealth creation community. As a result, you will obtain examples of alternative wealth creating strategies such as debt reduction, asset protection, and wealth acceleration with investments in items such as nano-based battery technology, precious metals, water rights, oil, natural gas, potash mines, food commodities, or gold mines … perhaps investments in energy assets that are inherently useful like oil rigs, hydropower, or methanol plants … things hard to build, difficult to replace, and costly to substitute … definitely not financial stocks, definitely not retail stocks, definitely not commercial property.
It is wise to monitor breakthrough technology as the next generation of portable electronics will need considerable improvements in battery technology. Nanotechnology is charging ahead with next generation batteries to power the way and offer alternative wealth creating strategies.
I will provide updates in future articles and at my blog over the next few weeks.