NOVEMBER 2014 IN
RICK ASTER’S WORLD
Progress in making batteries smaller and lighter has been slow to come, so now some engineers are focusing on ways to make batteries recharge faster. For some applications, especially transportation, this is a quality that may substitute for battery capacity. That is, if the battery charges faster, it isn’t so essential for it to last all day.
One approach that looks to be ready for a broad commercial rollout in 2015 is the hydrogen fuel cell. A fuel cell generates power just like a battery, but it is recharged not by putting electricity in, but by adding fuel, specifically hydrogen gas. Hydrogen gas is easy to move from one place to another, so a hydrogen fuel cell should be able to be recharged in a minute or so.
A newer approach that should be ready for small-scale testing in 2015 involves making battery cells much smaller using nanotechnology. When a microscopic battery cell is recharged, it doesn’t take as long for the electric flow to reach across the width of the cell, so charging times are reduced accordingly. Nanotech batteries should recharge just as fast as the electricity can be poured in.
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