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Batteries

  1. Cornell Researchers Say Salt Could Improve Battery Life by a Factor of 10

    The researchers were then charged with a salt and battery.

    Rechargeable lithium batteries basically make the world we live in possible. They power our phones, computers, and basically everything else—but they're not perfect. As they go through recharge cycles, they never come back quite as strong and wear out over time. Researchers at Cornell University think they've found a solution: Salt.

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  2. Guinea Pig Turned Into Living Battery, The Matrix One Step Closer To Just Being Our Lives

    You may think of guinea pigs as just furry little machines designed to process alfalfa into poop, but they are so much more than that! They are furry little poop machines that also make convenient batteries, like potatoes, that have fur and squeal! It's not just them, either -- pretty much any mammal can be turned into a battery, courtesy of our highly conductive inner ears, meaning the plot of The Matrix just got more plausible.

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  3. Portable USB Fuel Cell Charges Your Phone With Butane

    If you've got tons of mobile devices but aren't always around an outlet to charge them, you're about to have a new alternative to extra batteries. Lilliputian Systems is set to release a portable USB charger for sale at Brookstone, but not just any portable charger. What's so special about it? It runs on butane and can charge a phone 10-14 times before needing a refill.

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  4. Apple May Switch From Battery Power to Fuel Cell Power in MacBooks

    Ever feel like MacBooks could be even smaller and lighter? Sure, the MacBook Air is floating around out there, as thin as thin could be, but if two recently discovered patents have anything to say about it, as thin as thin could be isn't thin enough. The Apple patents focus on employing the use of fuel cells to power a "portable computing device," and if they replaced the current batteries used to power the portable computing devices, the devices could become even smaller and more efficient than they currently are.

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  5. Redesigned Lithium Batteries Could Charge Ten Times Faster, Last Ten Times Longer

    Pretty much everything nowadays uses a lithium-ion battery, and they seem to work alright, right? Well, a team of engineers from Northwestern University have put some effort into seeing if they could improve upon the norm. Miraculously enough, they seem to have stumbled upon a discovery that could not only allow lithium-ion batteries to charge ten times as fast as they do now, but also last up to ten times as long. Even after hundreds of charges, this new battery prototype remains at least five times faster than any brand new battery you could get today.

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  6. Researchers Create Transparent Lithium-Ion Battery

    We may not have technology used in futuristic movies just yet, but now we're one step closer: Researchers at Stanford University have created the transparent battery, a component that would be required to power, for example, a fully-transparent display. Stanford materials science professor Yi Cui, who led the project, says some battery components are easier to make transparent, citing the electrodes as the difficult part. Producing an electrode thin enough (around 100 nanometers) can make it transparent, but then it wouldn't store enough energy, so Cui designed the electrode in a pattern that is too small for the naked eye to notice, thus achieving transparency. Though the pattern is too small to see, it is still using enough electrode material to store a usable amount of energy.

    Due to the delicacy of the components, Cui and his team used a clear polymer called PDMS to hold the electrodes, made via a process that begins with using lithography to make a mold on a silicon wafer, then they pour the liquid PDMS over the mold, and cure the polymer. After peeling the PDMS polymer off of the mold, the sheet is engraved with a grid of channels, and is filled in with a solution holding the electrode materials. Then, to complete the battery, the researchers put a clear gel electrolyte between the two electrodes and put the resulting object inside in protective plastic wrapping.

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  7. Flow Batteries Could Let You Fill Up Your Tank With Electricity

    When we think of electric cars, we tend to think fo zippy little vehicles that are recharged by plugging them in and waiting for the battery to be topped off. But some students at MIT think they can change that with a system that lets you fill up your tank with a liquid that gets you back on the road quickly, and fully charged. It's called a semi solid flow cell, and it is built on a oozing black substance the researchers have christened "cambridge crude." Far from being anything like oil, it is comprised mostly of solid particles suspended in fluid. These particles carry the battery's charge and are cycled through the battery system as it discharges. In an electric car powered by such a battery, drivers would have more options for how to recharge.

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  8. “Dirt Batteries” to Power Cellphones in Africa

    Harvard researcher Aviva Presser Aiden and her team have snagged a $100,000 grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop and deploy Microbial Fuel Cells (MFCs) to Africa. These devices can be quickly and cheaply assembled, and can generate electricity from ordinary dirt to recharge cellphones. Powering cellphones with dirt batteries may sounds like a trivial development, but it becomes quite pressing when you look at the numbers. 22% of Africans use cellphones, but over 500 million do not have access to electrical power. For these people, recharging a cellphone means walking perhaps for hours to a recharging station and paying for the power. Recharging a phone typically costs between $.50 and $1, which can add up to a significant amount when the average annual income is measured in "several hundred dollars." The dirt batteries work by taking advantage of the natural metabolic processes of certain microbes. These tiny critters occasionally spit out a free electron while going about their normal business. The MFC batteries capture these electrons and put them to use. Aiden has already used similar technology to power lights in areas separated from municipal power, and has kept an LED burning in her lab for 14 months. In addition to being easy to power, the devices can be built from scratch at a very low cost. So low, that researchers believes that users could recoup the cost of materials after a single charge. For the Aiden, the next step will be taking prototypes into the field and introducing them to communities. Her hope is that by familiarizing people with the batteries, they can create their own without any additional help. If successful, these humble microbes may start lighting up communities across the globe. (Harvard via Gamma Squad)

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  9. Certain Philips Headphones Deliberately Lessen Battery Length When Using Third Party Batteries

    Over on Figure Maniac, a possibly deep, dark secret has been unearthed regarding some Philips' brand headphones, as it turns out Philips SBC HC8545 headphones contain a system that detects whether or not Philips brand rechargeable batteries are being used, and if not, significantly lessens the length of the third party rechargeables. Making the claims a little more believable--and Philips a little more evil--is the fact that the headphones come with a warning saying only Philips brand rechargeable batteries should be used with the product, and not third party rechargeables. The headphones contain an extra conductor in their battery slots that make contact with a battery's case. Through the extra conductor, a reverse-biased diode touches a specific part of a battery's case, which makes contact with a part of the battery that is not painted, thus allowing the headphones to distinguish Philips brand batteries from other brands. During testing, the connection between the extra conductor and battery was shorted out, and the length of third party batteries--which have the same specs as the Philips brand--were significantly increased, thus proving that said extra conductor indeed identifies, then regulates battery life as related to the headphones.

    So, what's going on here? An evil corporate scheme to force brand loyalty? Possibly, though a few astute commenters over on Hack A Day claim this kind of regulation is nothing more than a safety precaution put in place due to the wide array of third party rechargeable batteries floating around on the market, and Philips is only attempting to lessen the potential for the batteries to malfunction and damage the headphones, or in the worst case scenario, having the headphones break in a way that could cause some damage while someone is wearing them on their head.

    (Figuramania.blogspot.com via Hack A Day)

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  10. InstaLoad, Microsoft’s Devilishly Simple Tech for Putting Batteries In Any Way

    In the how-has-nobody-thought-of-this-before department: Microsoft has just unveiled InstaLoad, a simple, mechanical, devilishly clever technology that allows you to put batteries into a device whichever way you please, without having to pay attention to which end is positive and which end is negative. As you can see in the diagram to the left, this means that if you have a mouse equipped with InstaLoad (but then, who has a mouse?) there are four possible configurations in which you can put batteries in versus the one acceptable configuration in current parallel configurations. Here's how it works:

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