Points of Disinterest: Episode 9

One of the things I predicted for The Artifact was a different kind of battery technology. A polymer battery that acted like a capacitor and a battery at the same time. I was just making things up at the time.

A battery or more accurately a dry cell, converts chemical energy into electrical energy and the reverse when recharged. A battery’s voltage is determined by its chemistry and how many cells are in it. How much total power the battery holds depends on its chemistry and how much of its chemical storage it has (bigger battery=more juice).

A capacitor is made of two plates that build up opposite charges. A capacitor can be given different voltages, some can store thousands of volts of charge. Normally at a certain point the charge becomes too great and it starts to jump between the plates. Now normally the amount of energy a capacitor can store is very small. Ultracapacitors are a capacitor technology that can actually store a good amount of power but batteries still outdo them. Their main advantage over batteries is that they can charge and discharge very quickly and have many more charge and discharge cycles.

Now the National University of Singapore’s Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative (NUSNNI) has made my wild speculation a less wild speculation. They’ve essentially made a polymer ultracapacitor that they say will make lithium ion batteries obsolete. It is reported to store power more cheaply than lithium batteries. Whether they will or not remains to be seen. There have been a lot of battery advances in the past few years so they’ve got to hit a moving target. It usually takes ten to fifteen years for a technology like this to come to market. That’s right, you’ll probably have to wait until 2021-2026 to see this in stores.

The big deal is that the material is dirt cheap to make. As long as you can make it in large quantities, large capacitor batteries can be built and used in electric cars or a laser pistol, er if those existed.

The one thing I couldn’t find was how much volume the finished capacitor took up or weighs. From the information given, it’s supposed to be light but I have no idea about its bulk.

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