Wanted: More Battery Power; Lower Likelihood Of Explosion
from the in-an-ideal-world dept
A few years ago, I was at a conference and ended up sitting next to a research scientist who had spent many years working on and studying battery technology. We had a fascinating discussion about why it seemed like everything else in technology kept improving, but minus a few incremental advancements here and there, battery technology had pretty much topped out. His answer was both simple and memorable. It was something to the effect of: "You must realize, every battery you carry is basically a bomb waiting to go off. You can pack in more power, but that only increases the likelihood of it going 'boom.'" That statement kept popping up in my mind over the last month or so as story after story after story appeared about exploding laptops. Now, hours after Lenovo and IBM added a bunch of Thinkpad batteries to the long list of recalled laptop batteries from Dell and Apple, Sony (makers of all of those batteries) has announced its own damn recall of batteries from a variety of laptop makers who all used its batteries. So, with that in mind, it's really no surprise to start seeing articles looking at the state of research on new types of batteries. However, like previous times we've checked in on this space, there really isn't that much to report. There are ways to get more power, but it comes at the expense of a higher likelihood of explosion. You can make batteries safer, but then you get less power. There may be an answer out there, with things like decreased power consumption or faster charges may represent temporary solutions, but it seems we're still waiting for a real breakthrough in battery technology.