Thursday, March 12, 2009

Scientists discover new battery type

University researchers have discovered a new kind of battery, according to a study published in Nature. Scientists at the University of Miami (FL), the University of Tokyo and the University of Tohoku have created a device that stores energy in magnets rather than through chemical reactions. Conventional batteries store and give forth electrical power through a chemical reaction. When the chemical reaction occurs, some of the resulting power is lost before in can be transformed into into electrical energy. The so-called "Spin Battery" converts the magnetic energy directly into electrical energy, without a chemical reaction -- and without the loss of energy.

At present, the technology has not been applied to storage units with enough capacity to power even the smallest of electronic devices. However, the proof-of-concept unit is only half the diameter of human hair. As techniques for producing these devices is developed, we can expect this to be a transformative technology. A huge portion of the electricity currently produced in power plants is lost far before it ever reaches its destination. Similarly, electrically powered devices rely on large, heavy batteries to compensate for the energy lost in the chemical-to-electricity translation.

What if we no longer needed to compensate for the power loss?
Imagine a car battery that is 1/50th the size of conventional batteries.
Imagine being able to store electrical power in your home safely and efficiently, without devoting your entire basement to batteries.
Imagine the reduction in weight of all kinds of electronic devices... from iPods to weapons guidance systems to EKG machines.
Imagine if implementing the back-up power aspect of your business continuity strategy didn't require a generator the size of a tractor-trailer.

Truly, this is one of those discoveries that could completely alter the fundamental assumptions of energy production and usage.

Credit where credit is due:
University of Miami (2009, March 12).
Spin Battery: Physicist Develops Battery Using New Source Of Energy.
Retrieved March 12, 2009

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