Thursday, April 30, 2009

Emerging Technologies for Safer, Longer-Lasting Batteries

No doubt batteries will receive funding to improve performance, but safety is also an issue. With a string of battery recalls due to overheating, finding a battery solution that controls thermal runaway will be a priority as well. China’s BYD automaker beat Toyota to the market with its new iron-phosphate-based lithium-ion battery. In this article, the automaker shows cutting edge technology.

Silver -zinc has also been considered as a replacement for Lithium-ion has it holds 25% more power although experience by the Navy shows it has a shorter lifespan and the cost of silver can increase the cost of the battery but is inherently safer since the battery uses a non-flammable electrolyte.

BYD, the Chinese car maker continues to make headlines with its founder, Wang Chuan-Fu drinking the fluid of their batteries. Battery fluid in currently used batteries is highly toxic. By using alternative chemicals, the toxic nature of the fluid is mitigated.

For a side-by-side comparison of battery technologies both single use and rechargeable, please check out this site.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Semantic Web – It’s Coming Sooner than You Think

The Semantic Web has been under discussion ever since the web came into the commercial realm in the 1990s. The idea is to embed meta-tags into the information on the web that can allow computers to sort and categorize data.

If you want to see what this may look like, go to this site. I typed in “virtual instrumentation” and came up with a fairly cogent list of web links related to the topic. It clearly uses Wikipedia as its primary source.

For those who are not familiar with the Semantic web the Wikipedia definition defines it as “information and services on the web is defined, making it possible for the web to understand and satisfy the requests of people and machines to use the web content.”

Best regards,
Hall T.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Self-Assembling Batteries

Continuing in the series on batteries, we look at self-assembling batteries this week. Researchers at MIT are able to have lithium-ion materials self-assemble which would be useful for nan0scale devices. You can see a video on the TED channel here. in which the MIT researchers refer to viruses as self-assembling tools.

In this paper, University of Maryland researchers use block copolymers to function as a polyelectrolyte for the metal oxide cathode materials.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Emerging Technologies for Batteries—Several New Vectors of Research

Battery technology is coming to the forefront of the advanced research investment these days. The key drivers behind the research are energy density, safety, long life between recharge, ease of maintenance, and environmental friendliness.

Nickel Cadmium used to be the standard but due to environmental concerns about cadmium, Lithium Ion now holds 75% of the market.

Another technology on the horizon is the all liquid active materials which uses molten metals for the electrodes and a molten salt for the electrolyte. The resulting design generates 10x the power over a traditional power design.

Alternative energies such as wind are pushing the envelope on battery technology itself. In this example sodium sulfur batteries are used to reduce the intermittency problem with wind energy.

Another dimension of batteries is the environmental friendliness of the battery with respect to disposal. In this example, Fuji’s battery is free of cadmium, mercury, and PVC, which will soon be regulated out of landfills by some countries.

Best regards,
Hall T.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Siftables – a New Paradigm of Digital Technology Usage

I first saw Siftables on a Ted Talk video. The first thing that hits you is the “coolness” factor. David Merrill takes a set of cube-sized blocks each representing a digital function (in some cases arithmetic and other cases color just to name a few examples) and then proceeds to place them next to each other to perform a calculation or some other function.

The goal of the project is to let people interact with information and media just as they do with real world objects. By placing their hands and fingers on the objects they can sort and work with the devices.

As computational power goes down and out – that means it continually evolves into smaller, more granular packages used in a wider range of applications – we’ll see computation going into every machine not just those dedicated as personal computers or mobile devices. The siftable concept simply shows what is possible in the next generation of computing in which a processor, memory, and wireless are embedded in the unit to provide additional functionality. In five years, the mobile phone device in your hand will look like the personal computer of today—a big, bulky device.

Best regards,
Hall T.