Top 5 next generation battery technology in future

The average person comes into contact with hundreds if not thousands, of batteries every day. From the cars, we drive to the phone in your pocket. Our modern lives are quite literally powered by batteries. 

But it wasn't so long ago that nearly everything electrical had to be powered by massive coal-powered plants and the burning of precious fossil fuels. 

The introduction of batteries catapulted us into the tech revolution, and since then the technology behind batteries has come a long way, Innovations in the World of Technology are constant, and no company is more associated with progress than that of Elon Musk's Tesla

At the end of 2020, the company held what was called Battery Day. The event was highly anticipated and the presentation clarified the future of Tesla's new push to innovate batteries for use in Tesla's electric automobiles. 

The company announced initiatives to begin mining their own source of lithium to support the development of a battery, which they claim will reduce the starting cost of a tesla to a mere $25,000. 

This would put Tesla at the forefront of affordable green technology and opened them up to a whole new consumer base with more affordable vehicles. But Tesla isn't the only company making advancements. 

Today we will go over five battery technologies that will change the future. 

What is Battery?

A battery is a self-contained power pad that uses chemicals that cause a chemical reaction to produce a limited amount of energy. A single standard battery is something called a cell. Inside the cell, a chemical reaction converts chemical energy into electrical energy. 

But to do this, it has to have three separate components and anode, a cathode, and an electrolyte. Inside the cell, there are two electrodes and a chemical electrolyte. In between. This is packaged safely inside a case, and the two electrical terminals are marked with a plug for positive or a minus for negative. 

This limited energy source is self-contained and doesn't need to be connected to the wiring in your home to access electricity produced in a plant. The development of batteries created an instant portable source of energy and allowed humans to adapt and build on the developments of the industrial revolution. 

One of the few drawbacks to batteries is that they do lose effectiveness over time as the maximum amount of charge they can hold begins to drop in developing the batteries of the future. Battery life and costs are two of the major factors that scientists are hoping to improve. 

The key to renewable energy, space travel, and everyday tech improvements is the humble battery and improvements in materials. Function and packaging are quickly transforming the technology of the future.

Solid-state electrolytes

The electrolyte is a chemical medium that allows electrical charges to flow from the anode to the cathode. When a battery is inserted into a device, the chemical reaction occurs on the electrodes, and the chemical electrolyte medium is there to allow the battery to be conductive and charge and discharge the battery. 

One of the biggest advances in battery technology is actually the introduction of solid-state electrolytes. These batteries replace the liquid electrolyte medium with a new solid-state medium, which can hold a greater power density and be safer for consumers. 

For the last 30 years, lithium-ion batteries have been the primal type of batteries used to power consumer-grade technology. However, due to how flammable these battery components can be. There are still thousands of fires started every year due to battery misuse or failure. 

Solid-state electrodes allow for higher thermal stability and safer choices for future batteries. In electric cars, preliminary tests have shown the battery capacity for up to 500 miles of travel on a single charge. 

These studies on solid-state electrolytes are the first step towards thinner, cheaper, and safer batteries. 

The two electrodes, vertically aligned carbon nanotube electrodes (V.A.C.N.T electrodes)

This is a new innovation that uses a microstructure made up of carbon nanotubes. These tubes are vertically aligned and form direct paths for ions to travel in straight lines to be collected at the end of the electrical current. 

Currently, batteries produce energy in a non-efficient way, a charged ion inside the battery has to move through a mixture of powders to deliver its charge. This slows down the ion and takes away some of its power.

The new nanotube design has a structure of cylinders aligned like a hairbrush to form a straight path for the ions. This allows the ions to deliver more powerful charges as well as delivering them faster. 

This is how scientists have designed a system to build a battery that produces chemical reactions more efficiently by making the traveling path easier for the ion. 

These batteries have 10 times the power of a lithium-ion battery can increase energy storage capacity to triple the current average and increase the lifetime of the battery to five times the average length. 

Cobalt

One of the major components of the cathode and lithium-ion batteries. Unfortunately, it is a rare, toxic, and heavily mined resource. Throughout Africa, people are exploited and overworked in an attempt to keep up with cobalt demand. 

Cobalt is problematic for a variety of reasons, and this has caused researchers to search for alternatives. In July of 2020, researchers at the University of Texas reported that they had been able to design a battery with a nickel heavy cathode that could nearly match the power of traditional cobalt batteries. 

There is a slight drop in energy density, but tests showed the cobalt-free battery produced the same amount of voltage outputs and charge rates. The best news is that by moving to cobalt-free batteries, the probability of cobalt mining will go down and operations that employ child miners and engage in modern-day slavery will no longer be able to function. 

Cobalt-free is good for humanity and the environment at a large-scale breakthrough in zinc, manganese oxide batteries have been a long time coming since the early 19 nineties. Researchers found that if they could develop a working model, it could cut the costs of battery production dramatically. 

However, problems developed when after only a few charges, the battery would fail to hold any sort of charge. Researchers at Dios Pacific Northwest National Laboratory found an innovative way to increase energy storage by developing a new solution to the problems of zinc manganese oxide batteries of the past. 

The batteries underwent many changes to the chemical balances inside, and in 2016, researchers discovered that the chemical reaction happening inside, while short-lived, was entirely reversible through designing charging stations that remove the charge and reverse the chemical reaction inside the battery cells. 

This results in higher energy densities than traditional batteries, while dramatically reducing the cost to produce the battery. While this wasn't a great choice for consumer-grade batteries, it offers incredible solutions to large-scale energy storage and large energy grids. 

This very well could be the way your home is powered shortly. 

Gold nanowire batteries

One of the cutting-edge developments that have come out of nanotech research and battery development. Nanowires are essentially microscopic wires that are thousands of times smaller than human hair and thus are extremely conductive. 

In particular, gold nanowires are infinitely rechargeable and thus would essentially create a battery that could be charged repeatedly forever. However, due to the size of the nana wire, it is extremely fragile. 

This on top of the fact that gold can be more expensive than traditional materials means that this technology is still out of reach of mass production at the moment. This might change in the future as researchers are looking to change the gold for nickel and potentially adding manganese dioxide shells to solve their fragility problems. 

However, with the power you get from them, they might be worth the money. Already, initial tests have shown that these batteries can survive over 200,000 charges without any loss of power. 

For scale, a traditional battery only reaches about 6000 charges in its lifetime. This technology will revolutionize batteries significantly when the technology matters.

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