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Power Technology

Simple Chemical Trick To Boost Battery Efficiency 149

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
space_mongoose writes "Hitachi thinks that a simple chemical additive could significantly improve battery life. Alkaline batteries have a positive electrode of manganese oxide and a negative electrode of finely powdered zinc, but zinc oxide forms around these grains of zinc. Hitachi's solution is to replace the zinc with a fine powder of zinc-aluminum alloy, displacing the zinc within the zinc oxide layer making it a much better conductor."
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Simple Chemical Trick To Boost Battery Efficiency

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  • by anonymous_but_brave (1075911) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:03AM (#19156827)
    These changes to batteries are really just tweaks. Batteries are still very expensive, and thermodynamically inefficient. Also, they aren't even talking about lithium batteries, which would not benefit from this tweak. I'm still waiting for that breakthrough which will allow me to run my laptop for days (instead of hours) on a battery.
  • Voltage. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by lindseyp (988332) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:07AM (#19156869)
    Another advance I'd like to see in Battery Technology, that is for rechargeable batteries to be the same voltage as their alkaline counterparts.

    There are many applications where 1.2V just doesn't substitute well for 1.5V.
  • why (Score:3, Insightful)

    by wizardforce (1005805) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:10AM (#19156891) Journal
    TFA talks about a zing aluminum alloy with the aluminum acting as a sacrificial electrode to prevent an oxide layer from forming on the zinc but aluminum forms a very hard oxide layer too so how exactly does it solve anything if it's an alloy? it will just form the oxide layer anyway and impede current flow. now if it were a seperate electrode you would have a problem where the current mainly originates from the aluminum electrode not the zinc so in that case why have the zinc there? for that matter why are we still using these alkaline battery formulas? they end up with this problem when an acidic formula probably wouldnt from the oxide layer in the first place.
  • by evanbd (210358) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:23AM (#19156965)

    And battery companies don't do it because they want your batteries to run out faster, so you'll buy more...

    Do you have *any* evidence for this?

    I'd say the opposite is true. Battery companies *do* come out with new, higher performance models, and they provide good data about how well they perform. For example, Energizer has their e2 line of batteries, which have a longer life under some discharge conditions -- and those conditions are thoroughly documented in the data sheet.

    See also continued improvements in lithium ion rechargeable technology -- in the past few years both power and energy densities have improved dramatically.

    I suggest you do some research into the current state of the art before claiming the battery companies just sit on technology so you'll buy more batteries.

  • Re:Costs? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SnowZero (92219) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @01:23AM (#19156969)

    ...out of control inflation in the USA...
    While I agree with most of what you say, I have no idea what makes you think inflation is out of control right now in the US. The average for the last 8 months is a 2.36% yearly rate. The EU has averaged 0.5% better over the same period. Most analysts seem to think that is pretty reasonable.
  • Re:Voltage. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @03:24AM (#19157659)

    Another advance I'd like to see in Battery Technology, that is for rechargeable batteries to be the same voltage as their alkaline counterparts.

    There are many applications where 1.2V just doesn't substitute well for 1.5V.

    Battery voltage is determined by its chemistry.. So unfortunately not possible!
  • Re:Costs? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 17, 2007 @06:52AM (#19158747)
    I can still buy a loaf of bread ... for $1

    Where are you at? In Houston, the bread I get is $1.19, up from $1.09 a year ago, and it used to be $0.99 when I was in college.

    Here's a hint for you: if you have to buy a crappier product to maintain the same price (I can get $0.99 bread still, but it's 3/4 a loaf and tastes like chewing on a sponge), it's still inflation.
  • by SomeoneGotMyNick (200685) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:03AM (#19159149) Journal

    However the leap in added power will still be less than Lithium batteries

    I agree, but the New and Improved batteries might still be much cheaper and less hazardous [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:Voltage. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by ectal (949842) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @08:40AM (#19159521) Homepage
    The Eneloops are great.

    They live in my Wii remotes and really do hold a charge waay better than normal nimhs. And as a bonus the white and blue design of the batteries makes them look like they were made for the Wii. (Seems like a missed co-branding opportunity.)
  • Re:Voltage. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Rolgar (556636) on Thursday May 17, 2007 @10:16AM (#19161253)
    I was researching this earlier this week. The Hybrio [peswiki.com] also looks good. I'd like to try the Eneloops with the C and D size adapters, so I can recharge those as well.

    As I was reading reviews, I found that several reviewers recommended getting a nice charger. The recommended one to get is the Maha Powerex MH-C401FS. Each of the slots charges independently so you can charge any number instead of 2 or 4 at a time only, supports AA and AAA, or NiMH, it can charge in fast mode (100 minutes) or slow (5-8 hours), gives the best charge, and seems to be the gentlest on the batteries while giving the best charge, which makes it a great investment for battery purchases. It costs $40, but it looks like a great investment if it will save me that much money on disposable batteries the first year I own it.

Single tasking: Just Say No.