Scanning for Ideas: A Modular, Versatile Battery

Sept. 11, 2008
The Nanobattery from mPhase Technologies, Little Falls, N.J. (mphasetech.com), uses a concept that keeps the electrolyte from touching the electrodes until power is needed.

Therefore, the battery is not making electricity or running down. When commanded by a user or controller, the battery releases the electrolyte from a honeycombed separator and begins generating electricity. The battery can be built to contain daisy-chained cells containing different or the same battery chemistries, with only one working at a time.

When the first cell begins running down, it signals the next to begin working. Each cell is separate and independent, so each can use a different chemistry. For example, a spacecraft could have a three-celled battery with one cell optimized for operation in cold temperatures, the second for providing short bursts of relatively high voltages, while the third could supply a trickle of voltage for long periods of time. Then, technicians running the spacecraft could select the right cell for the right circumstances. Similarly, a battery cell designed to provide a 10-year life can be combined with two more of the same cells for a battery with a 30-year operational life.

The Nanobattery has several advantages. It can be single use or rechargeable, it can also use lithium chemistries, and it has an unlimited shelf life. Corrosion and leaks are not problems, and the battery can be mass produced using microelectronic manufacturing techniques.

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