That would be a real dream: researchers have succeeded in producing a new super battery for smartphones. This should be able to store up to eight times more energy than current batteries. The first hurdle has already been cleared – but the technology still has a big catch.
New Super Battery for Smartphones: Fluoride instead of Lithium
Conventional batteries in smartphones, tablets and notebooks use lithium ions to carry the charge. As every user can confirm from his own experience, the capacity will be much too low at the end of 2018. When used intensively, a smartphone has to be plugged in again by the end of the day at the latest. Although performance has also improved in this area in recent years, progress is being halted by increasingly power-hungry mobile phones. There is no alternative in sight – or perhaps?
Researchers at the California Institute of Technology and the Honda Research Institute have now succeeded not only in producing batteries based on fluoride ions, but also in making them practical – at least under laboratory conditions. Fluoride batteries have been under development for quite some time, as they offer a much higher capacity than their lithium brothers. Fluorides are found in many minerals in nature and even in the human body. Unfortunately, fluoride batteries have so far only emitted electricity at a temperature of 150 degrees Celsius. In practice, this has proved rather impractical for understandable reasons.
The scientists have now achieved a breakthrough in a new series of tests: Electricity is now already flowing at room temperature. Fluoride salt and ether allow the F ions to flow between the electrodes even at low temperatures. The test battery offers up to eight times more powerful than today’s standard batteries used in smartphones, reports the scientific magazine Spektrum in reference to the trade journal Science.
Fluoride batteries: Unfortunately not yet usable
Even though the researchers have achieved their first breakthrough, a few years are likely to pass before we can actually use this type of battery in our mobile devices. Battery performance alone is not the only problem. Batteries also have to be rechargeable as quickly as possible and store their energy for as long as possible. This is exactly the point where fluoride batteries are still lacking.
In the laboratory it has only been possible so far to charge the new battery seven times before it gave up the ghost. In everyday life, however, 1,000 or more charging cycles are required before a product can come onto the market. So the researchers still have a lot of work to do – and for us nothing will change in the evening charging ritual for the foreseeable future.