New Laptop Batteries Made of Gel Could Provide Low Cost Safe Power

7 October 2011

Is your laptop a bit on the heavy side? If so, you can put the blame on your battery. However, those heavy, bulky laptop batteries may not be around forever. A physics researcher Ian Ward at the University of Leeds has made a new polymer gel which can be used to design a new type of lithium battery that would cost less, be lighter in weight and more energy efficient.

The new polymer gel or jelly is made up of about 70% liquid electrolyte. This gel can be formed into a thin, flexible film through an inexpensive manufacturing process. The gel would take the place of the volatile liquid electrolyte which is currently in use to transfer ions between the electrodes. This equates to the battery not needing a permeable separator to keep the two sections of electrolyte from mixing or for the need of a rigid receptacle which prevents liquid from seeping out.

This can reduce the size and weight of a laptop battery and it would cost about 10% cheaper to create the newer batteries. This new innovation could improve the safety aspect of laptop batteries which do tend to overheat and which can even burst into flames. Gel-based batteries will be able to maintain cooler temperatures. Thus far the product has been licensed to the Polystor Energy Corporation in the U.S. It is being reported that some electronic manufacturers are already interested in the innovative technology and are considering both the pros and cons of the new batteries.

When the new lithium jelly batteries do become available, we will undoubtedly see lighter laptops on the market. Five years ago Dell had to recall 4,000,000 laptop batteries due to worries that they could catch on fire. The company replaced them with batteries which use lower-performance electrodes, but the new batteries were bulkier. The size of a battery is what dictates the size and weight of the typical laptop, so say the developers of the new gel battery.

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