Monday, October 19, 2009

Is This "the" Battery Breakthrough?

The problems with today's meager batteries and their various undesirable byproducts are legend. Advanced battery technology is the missing link in the chain that could one day pull us out of the age of oil. The problem just might be solved....

An Israeli scientist, Yair Ein-Eli, at a firm called Technion, in collaboration with Prof. Digby Macdonald of Pennsylvania State University in the U.S. and Prof. Rika Hagiwara in Japan, has developed a unique battery that is based on silicon as a fuel. Once spent the fuel reverts to its original state - sand - making it environmentally freindly and reusable. Best of all this battery has an indefinate shelf life.

It works like this: oxygen from the air in the battery capsule passes through a membrane and interacts with oxidized silicon. The silicon in this battery has the favorable qualities of being inert, stable, lightweight and nontoxic. Just as important - it has a very high-energy content.

Other metal-air batteries exist, some using lithium that are cheaper and far lighter than conventional batteries. These technologies have the backing of corporate giants on the technology side for use in electronics. They have not been successful in creating rechargeable metal-air batteries yet. Technion has bigger goals for their battery such as powering cars and also integration into solar or wind operations to make up for the largest single flaw in those energy solutions.

Technion's Ein-Eli tells us this new battery technology - with a US patent pending - is not yet rechargeable, but it can supply power for thousands of hours. Full development may take ten years but many companies world-wide have inquired about this promising technology.

I for one am all for it!