Wireless gadgets have made our lives easier and more connected, but there’s always a constant worry that we’re going to run out of battery power.
Many companies around the world are looking to solve this by constructing better, safer, and more reliable batteries. And one, SolidEnergy Systems, a spinout from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), has thrown its hat into the ring by announcing a new lithium-metal battery with double the capacity of current ones.
Traditional lithium batteries use graphite as anodes, the negative electrode of the battery. Being made of graphite though, which is just carbon atoms, makes the traditional lithium battery flammable.
The new battery uses an anode made of lithium metal foil, separated from the traditional cathode by a safe electrolyte. The metal foil is 20 percent the thickness of traditional carbon, which allows for a small size battery.
"With two-times the energy density, we can make a battery half the size, but that still lasts the same amount of time, as a lithium ion battery," SolidEnergy CEO, Qichao Hu, told MIT News. "Or we can make a battery the same size as a lithium ion battery, but now it will last twice as long."
SolidEnergy's battery promises 2.0 amps per hour compared to 1.8 amps per hour of an iPhone 6 battery. This might seem like a small improvement, but the smaller size of the anode allows you to fit two of these new batteries in the space of the old one.
SolidEnergy is planning to have these battery installed in drones by the end of the year, with smartwatches, wearables, and then smartphones following suit. Hu, also aims to move into battery production for electric cars in 2018.
Poor battery life is one of the biggest complaints in modern devices, so such breakthrough might find an eager market of power-hungry consumers.
"Li-ion can no longer satisfy our insatiable thirst for higher energy density, and even with the best engineering it is approaching its theoretical limit," Hu wrote in Nature last year.