Chemistry - Batteries - the future
Batteries - the future
Research and development in batteries parallels and enables other
developments in technology. Two devices assuming increasing significance in
modern society, the mobile phone and the laptop computer, demand reliable
long-life batteries. One of the reasons mobile phones have decreased in
size is the use of increasingly compact batteries.
The State of California, in the United States, has legislated for zero
exhaust emissions from motor vehicles to the extent that by 2003 there must
be 800 000 emission free cars. This has driven the push for an electric
The heart of any electric car will be the Such a battery must be
energetic, robust and long-lived. However, a fully effective economical one
has yet to be developed. A suitable battery must meet a rigorous set of
* high safety, high efficiency, low self-discharge rate, fast recharge
rate, long cycle/calendar life, low maintenance, low sensitivity to ambient
conditions, good environmental compatibility, and high energy and power
Batteries under consideration include aluminium-air, zinc-bromine, and
nickel-hydrogen. In all cases, the metal acts as the anode during
In terms of metals used in batteries, lithium provides a useful
combination of strong reducing power with high power to mass ratio.
Initially the high reactivity of lithium created safety problems, but the
development of solid polymer electrolytes has led to high performance,
safe, long-life, and rechargeable lithium batteries.
Another option for powering cars and electricity generating systems with
enhanced efficiency and reduced environmental impact in the future may be
fuel cells. Fuel cells are devices for converting the chemical energy in
fuels directly into electrical energy.
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