Nanowire Batteries Never Need Replacing

In this day and age we’re consistently surrounded with portable electronic devices. In order for them to be called “portable”, they must run on batteries. Most, if not all, use rechargeable batteries. These batteries have a finite lifespan, and will eventually need to be replaced. UCI chemist [Reginald Penner] and doctoral candidate [Mya Le Thai] have been hard at work on making rechargeable batteries that last forever.

Nanowires are great candidates for rechargeable battery technology because the wires, thousands of times thinner than a human hair, are great conductors of electricity. The problem is repeated charging and discharging makes them brittle, which causes them to eventually fail. Typically, the researchers at UCI could get 5000 to 7000 cycles in before they failed. After some trial and error, they found that if they coat a gold nanowire with an acrylic-like gel, they can get up to 200,000 charge/discharge cycles through it before failure.

We’ve seen rechargeable battery hacks before, but making a battery that never needs replacing is sure to get everyone excited.

47 thoughts on “Nanowire Batteries Never Need Replacing

  1. Sensationalism. I will believe it when I have it in my phone. After all, the $5 Pi Zero doesn’t exist until everyone has one, so same metric will be applied here

    1. Sensationalism indeed, because the article is wrong.

      It’s not a battery, it’s a capacitor.
      http://pubs.acs.org/doi/pdf/10.1021/acsenergylett.6b00029

      It has 200,000 cycle endurance over a 0.8 Volt charge window, and a full-cell capacity of 12−56 F/g which corresponds to an energy density of 1-5 Wh/kg

      Contrast that with lithium batteries at 250 Wh/kg and you’ll see this is basically nothing. It’s a somewhat lousy capacitor with an exceptionally high energy density, but nothing compared to actual batteries.

        1. That’s usually not very interesting with capacitors because the cycle time is fairly short in any typical application. If it holds energy for a few hours to a few days, that’s good enough.

    1. I don’t think so. If I were a battery manufacturer I’d go for it, because most rechargable batteries are fixed in the devices nowadays, and most devices are replaced every 2-3 years, so still decent business.

      1. 200k cycle battery is not suited for phone use anyways, phone gets recharged 1-2k times before it gets replaced with another, better phone. Using only 1% of battery’s life would be a waste.

        1. If they would really last that long, it wouldn’t be too hard to recycle the (basically still new) batteries out of obsolete phones – after all it’s the phones that keep changing, not so much the batteries they use…

          1. Yes, but practically nobody would. They would throw the battery away with the phone anyways unless they were so expensive as to make a significant dent in the price of a new phone.

            But in the latter case, people would just buy the cheaper lousy batteries that don’t last so long.

          1. And since there’s no practical way to prove how many times a battery has been used or how long it has been sitting on a shelf – for the customer or the manufacturer – nobody would trust “refurbished” batteries for any money.

    2. I was just about to type a reply along the lines of the battery manufacturers increasingly are being driven by the needs of their clients. Then I realised that neither they nor their clients (the manufacturers and retailers) want a battery that lasts a hundred years, only us, the end consumer with no say in the matter.

      1. You wouldn’t want a battery that lasts 100 years either, because 10 years along the line they’ll come up with a better one, and the size and shape and electrical demands of your devices change along the way while your battery won’t, so you’ll be throwing it away as incompatible and/or obsolete in a few years anyhow.

    3. if i have to buy a 60k Tesla but knowing in a couple of years i’ll have to replace the expensive battery pack i have to think about it. If i know the battery will last as long as the car now thats a gamechanger to me AND to the car manufacturer.

    4. If that was true no battery manufacturer would ever sell NiMH batteries because it destroys their alkaline products sales. But every major battery manufacturer also sells NiMH batteries and are still in business.

        1. Modern NiMH batteries have essentially no self-discharge.

          An AA alkaline holds charge for about 10 years on the shelf. An modern NiMH will do two. A year is practically sufficient for just about any application except some very low power applications like remote sensors and remotes, where a lithium primary cell will give >10 years of life.

  2. For the love of Odin stop reposting this, whoever wrote the original article needs their keyboard taken away and whoever copy pastas it as well.

    The original peer reviewed paper all this hoopla was written about detailed a gold nanowire manganese dioxide supercapacitor with only 22-56 farads per gram of active material. I will write your chemistry articles, there are others around here as well that could do the same.

    Point being you will never get 200,000 cycles out of faradaic redox reactions in a battery cathode, or for that matter stop a lithium SEI from thickening and forming dendrites and killing capacity. This is the equivalent journalistic expertise as writing about how the new hyperloop has a vibranium shell, when it’s just carbon fiber.

    1. “you will never get 200,000 cycles out of faradaic redox reactions in a battery cathode”
      No one claimed that was possible, except the people that do not understand the paper is describing a capacitor, not a battery.

  3. Is this Buzzfeed now? They are talking about supercaps! The storage density is terrible compared to Li:Ion, which has at least 10 times that figure. In addition, there is no way to practically manufacture these nanowires at any reasonable scale.. This article is the technology equivalent to “Hotel owners hate this guy”.

  4. Hackaday Prize Idea…
    Create a website which simply reposts links found in each hackaday article and comments section. The misleading, sensationalized, technically flawed, fluff text which only exists to increase the comment count would not be carried over. A forum would be available purely to offer criticism. All comments to this forum would be reposted on Hackaday.

    The concept ‘matters’ and improves humanity by:
    1. Not wasting the time of thousands of viewers, potentially freeing up hundreds of thousands of man-hours each year so they can create more hacks. “Pinchoff said this guy designed his own Atari console! I gotta see this… Oh, it’s just an emulator”
    2. Better promoting content creator’s website by not misleading viewers away from their site. “Yah, I saw that. Pinchoff said it was some Arduino thing, right?”
    3. Helping hackers develop the emotional calluses required to be honest with themselves and what they’re actually accomplishing. “I’m designing a 3D printer. It’s basically going to fix all the problems with 3D printers”.
    4. Posting the links in reverse order. This would put links found in the Hackaday comment section at the top and the article links in the bottom. In this way the links are automatically sorted from most to least relevant.

    What do you think?

  5. If it worked a stated you’d either have someone buy it and ruin it, or they’d bribe the government(s) to do so.
    But hey the pentagon/CIA/Sig-Int drones might get access to it

  6. A battery that doesn’t wear out would ruin Apple’s whole business model. After all, a finite number of charge-discharge cycles abd barely a day on a charge brand new ensures you have to pay up on that new phone! With present technology, a phone that gets a WEEK on a charge is possible. Nevermind the phone will be thick and heavy. I do have a phone like that. Despite finite charge – discharge cycles that phone will last for a good decade. I have a Samsung Galaxy S3 with the Zerolemon extended battery that packs 7 full-size amp-hours. A week on a charge? No problem. Glued-in batteries like Apple iCrap is a deliberate design flaw.

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