A research team at Rice University, Texas has been demonstrating lithium-ion batteries created using a spray painting technique. The technique would be ideal for creating batteries within areas that it might be difficult to fit a standard power cell. Almost any surface can be used to host the spray paint power cell; the researchers have successfully applied it to glass, steel and flexible polymer sheets.
Future applications could be very interesting with batteries being less bulky and even becoming a “structural” part of the electronic gadget case or car body panel. The technology could also complement solar cells with their large surface area there is opportunity to spray paint a large battery in a layer beneath them.
The spray on battery is made by making taking the traditional ingredients of a lithium-ion battery and making them into a liquid form that can be sprayed layer by layer to make the working battery. The liquefying process currently uses hazardous substances and is expensive but the team are working on finding other chemical possibilities.
Electricity from snails?
Another battery technology article from a few days ago caught my eye, largely due to the great illustration “Blood Cell by Trevor Johnston”. It’s a biofuel cell concept which makes electricity using the glucose from the snail’s blood. The snail battery doesn’t make a lot of electricity and because of the snail metabolism the current is not constant. However in a human where glucose is constantly replenished it could be used to power implanted medical devices like your pacemaker. However it probably wouldn’t be powerful enough for your smartphone.
Blood Cell by Trevor Johnston
Edison battery re-energized with graphene
Thomas Edison designed a battery to power cars and built an ‘EV’ using it in 1889. Stanford University scientists have recently modified the Nickel Iron battery structure using graphene incorporated into the iron anode and carbon nanotubes incorporating nickel as the cathode. As a result now we have an ultra-fast nickel-iron battery.
The Stanford team made a 1V cell to test the new nickel iron alkaline battery construction and efficiency. The cell could be fully charged in 2 minutes and discharged within 30 seconds. These figures are 1000 times faster than the original Edison battery. The energy density of these battery cells isn’t as good as lithium-ion batteries so will not be substituting that technology in cars, in their current state. However the large power boost (fast discharge rate) they could provide could make the new nickel iron batteries a complementary technology for faster acceleration.
Tesla Model S
In related news, on Wednesday What Car reviewed the new 2013 Tesla Model S. The car gets a four out of five star rating. The review concludes that it is the “most practical and versatile electric car we’ve driven”. The Tesla Model S can be bought with an 85 kWh battery giving a possible range of 300 miles, yet can still be charged fully overnight. The car can do 0-60mph in 4.4 seconds. Also you will get an eight year unlimited mileage warranty.