Why is a USBCELL AA Rechargeable Battery Revolutionary?
The USBCELL AA Rechargeable Battery is for any person who uses AA batteries to operate their electronic devices. This includes such devices as mp3 players, noise blocking headphones, gaming controllers, remotes, and much more. What makes these batteries different is that the top of the battery houses a USB connection. This means that the battery can then be charged anywhere there is a powered USB port available. The normal charging time is about five hours.
Here are some of the best features of the USBCELL AA Rechargeable Battery:
Easily charge from any USB port — 90% recharged in five hours
NiMH 1.2v 1300mah AA battery
Easily recharge on the go, at home, or in the office
Can be recharged hundreds of times, which saves you money and helps reduce waste
Built-in intelligent charger
Using a USBCELL AA Rechargeable Battery is Better for the Environment
Every day we humans toss millions of used batteries into the trash. These batteries are made of toxic materials that can leach into the ground and possibly into our drinking water supplies. By using rechargeable batteries, we are helping to preserve this world of ours for our kids and grandkids.
Besides the environmental friendliness of the product, you will also have the ability to recharge your batteries from just about anywhere. When you are on an airplane and that wireless mouse goes dead, just pop off the top of the USBCELL AA Rechargeable Battery and recharge it. This means that there is no longer a need to go around searching, in a busy airport, for an electrical outlet to charge up a standard rechargeable battery. This gives you peace of mind since you can simply pop the USBCELL AA Rechargeable Battery into any USB port and away you go.
Don’t you hate it when you run out of “juice” in your favorite device? A cheap battery would probably sort out your problems. What do I mean by a cheap battery? A cheap external battery will allow you to charge your favorite device on the go. It will allow you to double or even triple the amount of time the device can go between charge cycles.
I was told by a professional photographer and cinematographer that the only difference between a professional and an amateur was the amount of spare storage devices, lenses, tripods, and batteries they each carried. I agree with him and it is something that has stuck with me ever since. Even if you carry a single cheap battery around and use it infrequently, the fact that you use it gives the impression of a professional who needs the extra power.
Cheap Battery for Increased Performance
Having a cheap battery with you allows you to use the device more. If you know that the device you’re using will only last five hours, the battery life indicator will be checked every hour — and then every minute when that indicator drops below 20%. You aren’t getting the best performance out of yourself or the device. This is why the cheap battery backup is essential, in my opinion.
Cheap Battery on the Go
An inexpensive external battery is also great if you are traveling because you don’t have to worry about missing out on capturing moments. A businessman shouldn’t have to worry about missing a call from the boss because he drained his device charge playing games… and a vacationer for the first time shouldn’t lose memories because they took a photo of every. Thing. In. Sight! The backup battery will give you the confidence to do what you want, need, have, or love to do without fear of the device running out of power.
Cheap Battery for Multitasking
Imagine using your iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, or BlackBerry device to vlog. The same holds true for them. If you’re vlogging, a lot of strain is placed on your battery. Keeping a backup handy frees you from that worry. While I was in London, Scotsman — one of our writers — had a nice, cheap battery that I think those of you in the UK would appreciate. We all crave — and need — power in our lives, and I hope I have passed some to you.
Do you use a cheap battery? Do you have one and just not use it? Tell us in the comments below.
Hey, Chris. I’m wondering if plugging my iPhone in to charge before bed and leaving it plugged in for 8-10 hours after it’s fully charged is harmful? Thanks for all the great content; don’t let haters get you down!
Leaving your iPhone on charge while you’re asleep shouldn’t have any detrimental effects on the battery. The lithium-ion battery in your iPhone has two modes:
The fast charge, which can charge the battery to 80% of its capacity in around two hours.
The trickle charge, which will charge the battery to 100% of its capacity over three to four hours.
According to Apple, your battery will lose some of its capacity every cycle, but it will take thousands of cycles before your battery will only hold 80% of its charge.
The modern lithium-ion battery can take thousands of charge and discharge cycles before showing any kind of sign of not being able to hold a full charge. So I think that it’s safe to say that leaving your iPhone charging overnight wouldn’t be bad for it. If you’d like to know more, we’ve covered this topic in greater detail here: Should You Leave Your Smartphone Charging Overnight?
One of the coolest things I’ve seen Chris share from CES thus far has to be the Tethercell. This nifty little invention is going to massively shake up battery tech. I don’t know about you, but I have a very bad habit of forgetting to turn things off (or on, when appropriate). I also tend to forget to change my smoke detector batteries until the blasted things start beeping at me — normally always in the middle of the night.
Enter Tethercell. Never again would I forget to turn something off. No more beeping smoke detectors. I could schedule a time for battery-operated devices to turn themselves off or on. Yes — schedule this. That wasn’t a typo of some sort. It’s cool as heck and it’s going to change the landscape as it is further developed.
The idea is simple: Tethercell is a AA battery adapter that you control from your smartphone or tablet. Using the device and the accompanying (free!) app, you can turn your devices off or on, set schedules, and be alerted when the batteries are running low on juice. Heck, you can even Tweet about the fact that you turned something off (or on!) right from the app.
This may not seem so ground-shaking at first glance, honestly. But imagine the possibilities: save battery life by setting various devices to turn off and on at set intervals instead of leaving them running constantly. Avoid a potential tragedy by knowing it’s time to change the batteries in a device that you rely on for healthcare — before the juice is gone. Amaze your friends by having a toy magically come to life across the room. (Okay — that last one isn’t really important, but you see what I’m saying.)
The Tethercell is insanely easy to install. Take one of the AA batteries out of whatever device you choose. Make sure the Tethercell unit has a AAA battery inside of it and then use the device to replace the removed AA battery. No matter how many batteries are needed to run this particular machine, device or gadget, you’ll only need one Tethercell inside. Once you’ve turned on the item with Tethercell installed, fire up the app on your tablet or phone and you’re ready to connect. The app works flawlessly on any iOS or Android device you own.
What other uses can you foresee for Tethercell in the future? How could further development change the landscape of battery technology?
We have to send a shout-out to our friends at AMD for sending Chris to CES 2013. Without their help, we may never have gotten to lay eyes on the newest technology!
Recent disasters have taught us all one thing: our means to communicate are curtailed once the battery in our cellphone is depleted. With nearly one-half of homes in the US no longer having a landline, we have become even more reliant upon cellphones. In addition, some of these power failures are no longer measured by days, but by weeks, further compounding the problem.
Having a battery backup system is no longer a luxury, but a necessity. In addition, we need a charger that can handle multiple charges for all of our devices and also provide us with enough power to provide us with lights during the evening hours. In steps the MetAir Solstice from MetAir Portable Power Systems.
If you are reading this, you are most likely wondering makes this particular system so unique in comparison to similarly touted solutions out there. First off, the MetAir Solstice offers a whopping 55,000 mAh (55 amp hours) of non-rechargeable power. According to the company, this is equivalent of 115 D cell batteries, but at a fraction of the cost and weight. The company also proclaims that their MetAir Solstice battery can power up the iPhone 5 20 times, your new iPad up to five times, or provide LED lights for six hours a night for up to 12 nights.
The MetAir Solstice is powered by disposable zinc-air battery power cartridges that the company claims to offer the highest energy density of any disposable battery in the industry. The battery is easily replaceable so that, no matter what the emergency is or when the power is off, you will have ample power available. Having a charger available for emergency use will provide any user with a peace of mind knowing that they can still call emergency personnel, friends, and family when needed.
I believe that Hurricane Sandy brought home to all of us the need for reliable phone service during a time of disaster. According to MetAir Portable Power System, some 41 million Americans lost power to their homes and business during 2012. Depending on the school of thought to which you subscribe, it would appear that more power outages could occur as we face more storms in the near future.
The other advantage of using the MetAir Solstice is that the unit comes with three USB charging ports. This makes the unit easy to use with multiple devices that need to be charged at the same time. The company states that replacement battery cartridges will be available online directly or at select retailers; they will cost $49.
I have been using the Google Nexus 4 smartphone for a few weeks and, over all, I have enjoyed the experience. Using Google Android Jelly Bean has improved the performance of this cellphone, making it function smoothly during the course of all the activities I complete each day. Though the regular functioning of the phone is top-notch, there is one issue that is annoying and is in need of a fix from Google or LG/Qualcomm.
The annoyance? When the Google Nexus 4 is connected to 3G/4G or other cell tower connection, battery drain seems excessive. At least this is the opinion of some people who have expressed their opinions over at the XDA forums. Over at the Android forum, one user states the following, which fairly sums up the problem:
On Google/LG Nexus 4, running Android 4.2.1 (stock/rooted), there is a severe battery drain caused by the “msm_hsic_wakelock” process.
From what I have read, the process should cause a wakelock every time there is a mobile data activity. However, post the data activity, the wakelock is not released, which causes a severe battery drain.
Under the battery stats in Android 4.2.1, the drain shows up in “Android OS” or “Android System” and sometimes even the “Phone” process.
According to some reports, the problem subsides when the Google Nexus 4 is used on Wi-Fi. This could explain why I have not personally experienced this issue since using my Nexus 4. I spend the majority of time using the cellphone on Wi-Fi whether at home, visiting friends, or at some of the businesses I visit that have Wi-Fi. In fact, in checking my Wi-Fi listing of connections, surprisingly I have 15 connections that are set up to auto connect when within range.
I realize that this is not a solution for many of you who read this since your day may be spent with a cell tower connection only. But for those of you who have an option to use a Wi-Fi connection, I would recommend you give this a try while we all wait for a fix or patch to be issued by either Google or LG/Qualcomm.
It seems that Qualcomm has updated the problem according to this report:
So I’ve been testing the msm_hsic wakelock bug fix from Qualcomm in the last six hours and I have roughly 11s spent on that wakelock, which is normal and expected. I might drop r22 in a little containing only that fix as a change.
This is just one person’s experience, however. So if you own a Nexus 4 phone, let us know if this fix has worked for you.
This is an interesting project for those do-it-yourself people who like to tinker. It seems that all of us have become victims of buying everything already made and we no longer get our hands dirty to either built a PC, or in this case, to build a smartphone battery backup. Let me just say this: if you have never built yourself a desktop PC, you don’t know what you are missing. I have built hundreds of computers for myself, my family, and for clients, which has always left me with a feeling of satisfaction when the job was completed.
Similarly, building your own smartphone battery backup system is a project that you can do for yourself or share with another family member. I would classify the knowledge needed to complete this project as moderately easy, but your tech expertise will decide just how easy — or difficult — the project will be.
First, let’s start with some of the parts you will need to begin.
The battery is the heart of a smartphone battery backup system. One would think that a car battery could serve as a battery backup, but this is not the case; car batteries expel gases during the charging process, and no one wants that inside of their homes. One battery I’d recommend is one that is designed to be used in a marine environment, produces no deadly gases, and is leak proof. One such battery for use in a battery backup system is sold at Amazon and is called the Optima 8014-045-FFP YellowTop Group 34/78 Deep Cycle Battery. The battery sells for about $185.
Once you have the parts all rounded up, just follow these directions to set up your charging system.
The first thing you have to do is connect the wall charger to the battery. Make sure you use the correct connections, which are marked on the battery pole. Red to plus and black to minus. Let the system charge for six to eight hours.
Once the battery is fully charged, it is now time to check to see if your phone can be charged. Attach the cigarette lighter adapter to the battery with the same connections (red to plus and black to minus) as above.
Plug in your USB cable to the phone adapter and you should see the charging indicator on your phone pop into action.
The amount of times you can charge your phone will depend on how much power your phone uses during normal operation. However, using this type of battery backup will provide more charging power than the simple backups that may charge a smartphone as few as three times.
How do you keep your smartphone working when the power is out?
Those of us who have chosen the Android operating system to power our smart phones or tablets have a vested interest in obtaining the best possible battery performance that we can. This is not always an easy adventure, since the road to battery savings is full of potholes. The folks at XDA Developers have put their backs into a recent study in which they have compiled some very interesting information, suggestions, and tips about Android phones and the applications they use.
One could conclude that to obtain the best possible battery life, one only needs to use fewer applications. While this theory holds some truth, the smartphone you buy could also be a power-draining device with little or no solution. In other words, your phone could be a power sapping, battery-eating device, no matter how few applications you choose to run.
Here is a list of the top 15 battery-sapping smartphones that use the least amount of juice:
Here is a list of the 15 power-hungry smartphones that will suck the life out of a battery:
Though these reports are extremely handy for those who might be considering purchasing one of these phones, what about an Android device that you already own? Are you running any battery-draining applications that are sucking the life out of your phone behind your back?
The good people at Root Uninstaller came to the rescue with a recommendation for an application that can be extremely useful for us Android fanboys. Did I mentioned that I am an Android user, owning two Android smartphones and a Nexus 7? I tried the recommended application called Battery Stats Plus on all of my Android devices.
I must admit that I was somewhat skeptical as to how well this application would work or not work. My fears were not justified and I learned a lot about my phones, the Nexus 7, and the applications that I have been using. First let me share some specifications of how Battery Stats Plus works:
Usage attributes include CPU, CPU foreground, network, GPS, sensor, wake lock, and battery information. Statistic data is optionally uploaded on our cloud and shared with other users.
Cloud-based service to compare your battery lifetime and battery usage between your device and other devices:
Analyze battery stats per app
Statistics on CPU, CPU foreground, data usage, GPS usage, sensor usage
Auto-detect and notify battery-draining apps (PRO)
Estimate and monitor battery lifetime
Cloud-based service to compare device’s battery performance
Cloud-based service to compare battery usage per app of your device and average usage (reported by other users)
After using the application for a few days as recommended by the developer of the application, I was unable to determine which were draining the battery power of my devices. I was especially impressed with the high battery usage application results that Battery Stats Plus found on my personal Samsung Android-powered phone.
I also tried another application that was recommended by Root Uninstaller called Smart RAM Booster. The developers claim the following:
Smart RAM Booster is designed to overcome these issues by selectively killing less important apps that are running in the background but consumes considerable device memory.
RAM Booster comes with auto-boost in four levels: aggressive, strong, medium, and gentle.
Aggressive: kill most low priority apps
Strong: Kill apps that are low priority as well as consume lightly below an “average”
Medium: kill apps that consume memory above an “average”
Gentle: kill only apps that use considerable memory
I must admit that I have been impressed with RAM Booster. I have opted to use the automatic boost setting, setting the minimum RAM boost option of my choosing. So far the program has performed flawlessly and I would recommend that you give the application a try.
Both applications are free. You can’t beat the price.
My wife’s cellphone needs to be recharged constantly, so the thought of a power outage where she wouldn’t be able to do this is a little overwhelming to her. With this in mind, I had decided to write this article — even before hurricane Sandy — about the enormous problems that could result from not being able to communicate via our cellphones. Once Sandy struck, however, and we were able to see the tremendous amount of damage, including the loss of life, destruction of homes and businesses, and the damage to cellphone towers, the importance of this article was obvious. In fact, one thing that stood out about the importance of our cellphones was our dependence on them in any emergency situation. With this being said, how can we hope to keep them fully charged during such a catastrophic event so that we can use them if we need to call for help?
One solution is to purchase a juice pack. This is one of the more popular devices available and it’s an excellent way to keep your phone powered up. These powerful little battery packs are offered for the popular Apple iPhone models by companies such as Morphie. If you don’t have an Apple device (though it will also work with Apple devices), you can opt for another battery backup system called Zagg Sparq. This handy little system can charge, via USB cable, multiple devices at once. However, if you don’t have access to electricity, don’t forget that a simple car adapter can be used to charge your phone.
Another option during a power failure is for you to charge your cellphone by using a power inverter that converts your vehicle’s 12-volt DC power to 120-volt AC power. One power inverter, called the Bestek 300w, provides an electrical plug and two USB plugs for charging devices and can, within limits, operate a laptop or desktop computer. If this is what you need to charge, however, be sure to check the manufacturer’s specification sheet before buying to confirm that this device can provide enough juice to operate your desktop.
In the early stages of an outage, most laptop computer owners will find that they already have a free backup for their cellphone battery. This is because most laptops now offer the ability to charge a portable device, including a cellphone, to keep the juice flowing. To take advantage of this feature, however, your laptop needs to be fully charged prior to the time you need it. This is often hard to do as no one knows for certain when their power is going to fail.
Other tips include turning off unnecessary applications on your cellphone so that you can conserve your cellphone battery. While this in itself is a valuable tip, be aware that there are also plenty of applications out there that will help conserve power and extend the life of your cellphone battery.
The final, and probably the most logical solution since you never know when an emergency will crop up, is to keep a supply of extra batteries on hand. However, you will need to occasionally check the batteries to ensure that they don’t fail when you finally need to use them.
Though none of these solutions are 100% perfect and may not work for everyone, they will hopefully give you options to try in the event that a power outage does occur. I do know that even during everyday events, like driving down the road, you never know when you are going to need a workable cellphone; taking precautions to keep your cellphone powered up could also save your life or the life of a loved one.
It’s well-known that, with the release of iOS 5, battery life has been less than exemplary. I’ve been slammed with it, too, and am feeling the repercussions when I’m only halfway through the day and I get that dreaded low battery warning on my iPhone — not only my iPhone, but any iDevice has been struck hard for those of us who have updated. Apple has been actively pursuing a solution to the problem and even called complaining owners personally to have them install diagnostic tools for troubleshooting. Since then, iOS 5.0.1 has been released to combat the problem a little bit, with a full solution promised in an iOS 5.0.2 release soon.
While we wait for a solution to come from Apple on the dire battery issue that has left many of us buying external battery packs or even carrying around our chargers with us everywhere we go. Some solutions have been found by tweaking location settings and app preferences. These are temporary solutions and do nothing to fix the power sucking issue with iDevices; they only hinder it by turning off some features to save on the power. In reality, we shouldn’t even have to turn off these features and should have sufficient battery life. This isn’t the case, though. If you’re like me and find your device constantly running out of power, take a look at these tips to slow down the power consumption monster.
What You Can Do on the Phone
Disable location services. The GPS is one of the biggest power hogs out there; it sucks power to provide a wide array of apps from Foursquare to Maps to path your location when it isn’t needed or wanted. To kill this at the source, under Settings and Location Services, you can manually go down the list and disable a specific app from accessing your location or you can take them all out in one punch. An advantage to this is added privacy from apps that are trying to track your location, but direction-based apps that you might rely upon are going to be left in the dark when you switch them all off.
Disable notifications from unnecessary apps. If you’re an app junkie like me, you’ve probably downloaded an app here or there and, when you first started it, you obviously pressed the allow notifications button when it asked so it could alert you. On some applications like Twitter, it’s perfectly fine, but on other apps it isn’t necessary. By disabling push notifications from less-used apps, you can add just a bit more battery life because your device won’t be constantly going to the application and asking if it has any updates to push to you.
Disable push emails. Instead of letting your phone check in like an antsy child for new emails the second they arrive in your inbox, try turning this feature off to only check for emails manually. This will save a considerable amount of battery life, but will mean that you won’t get emails the second that they’ve been sent. It’ll require you to go into the Mail app and hit the refresh button. This can combat battery life and give you a break from your inbox. If it isn’t a mission critical mailbox, go ahead and turn it to manual — or you can even increase the time between automatic checks. Checking your inbox every minute isn’t that necessary, is it?
Download from Wi-Fi rather than a 3G connection. If you’re downloading anything and it’s a large file size, your best bet is to stick with Wi-Fi to download the package. Wi-Fi generally downloads faster, unless you’re in a hotel room, than your standard 3G connection. It’s also generally known that the 3G antenna is greedy about getting power from your battery and will consume a lot more juice than Wi-Fi. It might also save you money on your data plan; if you’re downloading too often on 3G, you might meet your data cap earlier than expected or desired.
Clean out your multitasking apps if they’re open. With the introduction of multitasking on your device, it’s all too often that you’ll open up an application and hit the home button thinking you’ve fully closed out of the application, but it’s still running in the background. Apps will run in the background and consume battery if they’re like the Facebook and Foursquare apps that, by default, check for updates constantly. Just double tap that home button and hold down the button on an open app to make the removal button appear; now close out of all the apps that you aren’t actively using at the moment. Right there, you’ve saved so much battery life. It’s also wise to clean out your multitasking queue because apps can get stacked up there and take up all your RAM, causing apps to run sluggishly.
If you’ve tried all of the above solutions and still find your battery being depleted before the day is over, we have a couple of solutions for you. Even when our devices run fine without power sucking apps, it’s always nice to have a backup plan, like an extra battery. But the iPhone is special because, unlike other phones, it doesn’t have a battery door that is easily accessible. This has left manufacturers with only one choice when providing external power to an iPhone: an integrated case and power pack that uses the dock connector on the iPhone to constantly provide power to the device. The Mophie Juice Pack is an excellent example of innovation that has come out of designing a stylish, slim power pack for the iPhone. The design is phenomenal, sleek, and doesn’t give too much extra bulk to the device. This is the best bet for anyone who needs more power to their iPhone to almost double its power’s lifespan.
If getting a battery case for the iPhone is a bit too much for you, or you’re attracted to your phone case too much, then there’s only one option for you. That’s always having a charging cord on you. You can get everything from one that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter to the USB cable that can plug into your computer or a wall power adapter.
These are just a few of the many options to save battery and power your device for longer. If you have anything else that saves you battery life on your phone, let us know your tips and tricks.
There comes a time when the battery in your MacBook Pro will become offset and give a faulty percentage or time indicator. There is a way to fix this and keep your battery calibrated correctly. Apple recommends that you do this step the first time you receive your new MacBook Pro or any Mac computer with a battery and continue to do it every couple of months after that to keep your computer in tip top shape.
Calibrating your battery isn’t hard, but will take some time to complete once started.
Make sure your Mac is fully charged — Before you start your test, make sure your computer has a full charge; this will be indicated by a green light on the end of the MagSafe power adapter.
Allow your computer to rest — If you’ve just charged your Mac, allow it to rest for two hours so the battery has time to keep the charge and sustain it.
Unplug and drain the battery — Once the Mac is fully charged for at least two hours, you may unplug it and start to use the computer. The point here is to wear down the battery and deplete it until the computer shuts down by itself.
Continue to use the computer after the warning of low battery — Save work once you see this warning and continue to use the computer and fully drain the battery.
Let the computer sleep — Once the Mac’s battery has been depleted, it will automatically go to sleep. At this point, you want to let the Mac go uncharged for five hours so that the battery will truly drain all the way down.
Charge it back up — Once the battery has been drained for five hours or more, you may then charge it up again. When charging, leave it off and do not turn it back on until the battery indicator is green.
At this point your battery has been recalibrated and should show accurately what your computer percentage is. For more diagnostics of your battery, check out the free tool called coconutBattery, which will show you detailed information on battery statistics and all the fun stuff for the more technical person.
A LockerGnome reader asked, “My MacBook is less than a month old and iStat shows me that my battery health is 95% with only 17 cycles. I’m not sure if frequently unplugging and replugging my MacBook charger is causing this or not.”
This is a great question. Notebooks are meant to be portable and accessible pretty much anywhere. Unfortunately, a weak battery can ruin a user’s experience. The good news is that your frequent use of the battery actually has a positive affect on overall battery life. A stale battery that never gets the chance to discharge can age and lose its capacity at a slightly faster rate. Thankfully, Apple has a process called “adaptive charging” which
My first piece of advice is to make sure you’ve calibrated the battery on your new MacBook properly. It’s recommended that you go through a calibration cycle when you receive it and once every month or two afterwords to maintain accurate readings on your battery level monitor. iStat is a great tool, but it may not be very accurate without a properly calibrated battery.
According to Apple, calibrating your battery can be done using the following process:
Plug in the MagSafe Power Adapter and fully charge the battery.
Allow the battery to rest in the fully charged state for two hours or longer.
With the computer still on, disconnect the power adapter and continue to use your computer.
When you see the low battery warning, save your work and close all applications. Keep your computer turned on until it goes to sleep.
After your computer goes to sleep, turn it off or allow it to sleep for five hours or longer.
Connect the power adapter and leave it connected until the battery is fully charged. You can use your computer during this time.
While you are discharging and charging the battery, you can use your computer as you normally would except for a brief period of time during steps 4 ad 5 as indicated.
Charging and Discharging
Apple does not recommend that you leave your MacBook plugged in all the time. In fact, Apple describes an ideal usage situations as, “a commuter who uses her notebook on the train, then plugs it in at the office to charge.”
Apple expects its current line of notebook batteries to hold at least 80% of their original factory capacity through 1,000 charges and discharges. A system they call “adaptive charging” is in place with the intention in mind of keeping the battery healthy for up to five years.
It’s recommended that if you use your notebook infrequently, the battery be discharged at least once every month in order to maintain calibration and sustain capacity.
If you plan on storing the MacBook for extended periods of time (six months or more), Apple recommends that you discharge the battery to 40-50% prior to doing so. If you store a battery for long periods of time at full charge, it may lose capacity more quickly.
In a laboratory at Ohio State University, an ongoing experiment is studying why batteries lose their ability to hold a charge as they age — specifically lithium-ion batteries, which have generated a lot of buzz for their potential to power the electric cars of the future.
Preliminary results presented today at the AVS 57th International Symposium & Exhibition, taking place this week at the Albuquerque Convention Center in New Mexico, suggest that the irreversible changes inside a dead battery start at the nanoscale.
Yann Guezennec and Giorgio Rizzoni of OSU developed new experimental facilities and procedures to charge and discharge commercially available Li-ion batteries thousands of times over many months in a variety of conditions designed to mimic how these batteries are actually used by hybrid and all-electric vehicles. Some of the batteries were run in hot temperatures like those in Arizona; others in colder conditions similar to those in Alaska.
To understand the results of this testing, Bharat Bhushan, Suresh Babu, and Lei Raymond Cao studied the materials inside of the batteries to help determine how this aging manifests itself in the structure of the electrode materials.
When the batteries died, the scientists dissected them and used a technique called infrared thermal imaging to search for problem areas in each electrode, a 1.5-meter-long strip of metal tape coated with oxide and rolled up like a jelly roll. They then took a closer look at these problem areas using a variety of techniques with different length scale resolutions (e.g. scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscope, scanning spreading resistance microscopy, Kelvin probe microscopy, transmission electron microscopy) and discovered that the finely-structured nanomaterials on these electrodes that allow the battery rapidly charge and discharge had coarsened in size.
Additional studies of the aged batteries, using neutron depth profiling, revealed that a fraction of the lithium that is responsible, in ion form, for shuttling electric charge between electrodes during charging and discharging, was no longer available for charge transfer, but was irreversibly lost from the cathode to the anode.
“We can clearly see that an aged sample versus and unaged sample has much lower lithium concentration in the cathode,” said Rizzoni, director of the Center for Automotive Research at OSU. “It has essentially combined with anode material in an irreversible way.”
This research is being performed by Center for Automotive Research at OSU in collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the National Institute of Standards Technology.
The researchers suspect, but cannot yet prove, that the coarsening of the cathode may be behind this loss of lithium. If this theory turns out to be correct, it could point battery manufacturers in the right direction for making durable batteries with longer lifetimes.
Lithium-ion batteries have become ubiquitous in today’s consumer electronics — powering our laptops, phones, and iPods. Research funded by DARPA is pushing the limits of this technology and trying to create some of the tiniest batteries on Earth, the largest of which would be no bigger than a grain of sand.
These tiny energy storage devices could one day be used to power the electronics and mechanical components of tiny micro- to nano-scale devices.
Jane Chang, an engineer at the University of California, Los Angeles, is designing one component of these batteries: the electrolyte that allows charge to flow between electrodes. She presents her results today at the AVS 57th International Symposium & Exhibition, which takes place this week at the Albuquerque Convention Center in New Mexico.
“We’re trying to achieve the same power densities, the same energy densities as traditional lithium ion batteries, but we need to make the footprint much smaller,” says Chang.
To reach this goal, Chang is thinking in three dimensions in collaboration with Bruce Dunn other researchers at UCLA. She’s coating well-ordered micro-pillars or nano-wires — fabricated to maximize the surface-to-volume ratio, and thus the potential energy density — with electrolyte, the conductive material that allows current to flow in a battery.
Using atomic layer deposition — a slow but precise process that allows layers of material only an atom thick to be sprayed on a surface — she has successfully applied the solid electrolyte lithium aluminosilicate to these nanomaterials.
The research is still in its early stages: other components of these 3D microbatteries, such as the electrodes, have also been developed, but they have yet to be assembled and integrated to make a functioning battery.
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