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Newer Battery Technologies to Pave a Way for the Future

Auth Anushka Agarwal | Apr 16,2020

The use of batteries brings several environmental changes. They take over a larger part of the renewable energy in the power sector, countering the negative impact of fossil fuels or nuclear-based power on the environment such as air pollution, global warming, and ecological impact. Unlike fossil fuels, that burn up and can never be recovered back, some parts of the batteries can be recycled.

However, what battery manufacturers don’t realize is, the way batteries are treated at the end of their life also has environmental impacts. This is why, it is highly important that even if you buy the AA rechargeable batteries or AAA rechargeable batteries, how they are disposed of, and if they are processed or not can make a lot of difference. Over time, there is a huge dump created because of these disposed of batteries.

Although the key constituents of the lithium-ion batteries are available in good amounts today, with the continued expectations from batteries to fulfill high energy demands, the reserves will deplete in the coming future. Furthermore, the health impacts of mining the minerals is disastrous for the surrounding regions. Therefore, to meet the predicted increase in the demands for batteries from the rapid rise in electric mobility, we cannot rely on these reserves in a longer duration. It is high time, the supply chains for these materials are acknowledged and the steady source is found.

The Basics: How Does a Battery Work

No matter the shape and size of a battery, each of them are required to convert chemical energy into electrical energy. It is made up of three major components, an anode, cathode, and an electrolyte. Each of these elements is made of different materials. A chemical reaction between these materials generates energy.

A chemical reaction takes place in a battery when it is plugged into an external circuit that connects the anode and the cathode. It generates a build-up of electrons and ions at the anode end. These electrons move towards the cathode through the electrical circuit. This movement in turn powers the appliance to which it is connected.

How Does a Rechargeable Battery Work?

Everything is dependent on the material used for constructing the electrodes and the electrolyte. Even the lifespan and the rechargeability of a battery. A battery gets discharged when the reactions slowly transform the material into a form that can longer react with each other. However, it is possible to reverse the chemical transformation by providing the battery with electrical energy by placing it on a charging end. This changes the direction of both, the electrons and ions flow. SmartCell batteries provide a recharge cycle of 1200 times. This means that such a reversal can place in these batteries 1200 times. Such batteries are called secondary batteries since they can be recharged again. The non-rechargeable, single-use batteries are called as primary batteries.

Since time and again, primary batteries have been used to power devices for short-term usage. Until recently, secondary batteries, that are already used in mobile phones and laptops, have become popular in other domains as well, like automobiles and general portable usage. Since these batteries last longer than the primary batteries, they are receiving a positive reception in the market.

Battery Terms- Energy, Power, and Energy Management

Different versions and brands of batteries have a different energy to power ratio (E/P) ratios. Power refers to the amount of electricity that can be released by a battery. Energy is the amount of electricity that can be stored in a battery over time. The ratio, E/P, is determined by the materials, layout, and other factors that affect its working capacity for different applications.

High energy is a concern for devices with portable electronics, to extend the time between their usages and the next charging cycle. Since batteries are being tried for electric vehicles, they will need both high power and high energy.

Many rechargeable batteries store energy from external sources like the wind and sun and release it when needed. In the long run, these play a very critical role in efforts to mitigate climate change. Such batteries are called as the environment-friendly and energy storage devices.

How Does the Future Evolution of Battery Companies Look Like?

To meet the energy needs of our society, there has to be an increase in the performance to provide maximum output and efficiency. The key is to find new designs that meet specific purposes. Although the batteries have never been invented keeping such a huge energy crisis in mind, their development has been slow as compared to the other areas of electronics. The major hurdle is to find the compatible elements that can function as the electrodes and electrolytes, without compromising with the aspects of a battery’s design. There has to be a trial and error method followed, that can combine all the areas of design parameters.

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