More Energy for Batteries

Handheld devices have a lot of applications that many times are hampered by a common factor: the power range of their batteries

By: Yurisander Guevara


2015-10-28 | 15:49:09 EST
In a world where the technological availability is day by day higher, the batteries of the devices play a key role in securing the satisfaction and reliability of the users.In a world where the technological availability is day by day higher, the batteries of the devices play a key role in securing the satisfaction and reliability of the users. Photo: Juventud RebeldeZoom

More Energy for Batteries

Handheld devices have a lot of applications that many times are hampered by a common factor: the power range of their btteries

Yurisander Guevara
October 14, 2015

Many times the battery of our handheld device is running out when we need it most, and to top it off, there’s no outlet around to recharge it. Has this ever happened to you?

In a world where the technological availability is day by day higher, the batteries of the devices play a key role in securing the satisfaction and reliability of the users.

Mobiles, tablets and laptops are becoming everyday tools and outsell the desktops, according to technological advisor Gartner, one of the main authorities in this sector. This company predicted, for instance, that in 2017 handheld devices would supersede by 70% the traditional computers in quantiity. And the thing is that portability, coupled with the many applications of these devices, make them more and more attractive.

However, although the processing technology in the mobiles has quickly progressed and many of them outdo many computers in power, their “Achilles heel” continues to be the batteries. Applications are on the rise, but the energy is still inadequate, even more if the device is connected to the Internet and in constant use.

Efficiency vs. Design

Batteries have quite an old history. On March 20, 1800 Alessandro Volta announced to the Royal Society of London the invention of the battery, which is named after him. That was the first step in the creation of a device able to turn the stored chemical energy into electricity, and this has been subjected to a series of combinations seeking higher efficiency.

Many of the achievements some decades ago are still in use, like the lithium-ion, the alkaline or nickel metal hydride batteries (NiMH), the latter very common among rechargeable batteries.

The computing handheld devices and cell phones, which gradually became popular in the 1980s, utilize lithium-ion batteries, owing to their stability and durability apart from being rechargeable. However, there’s still a long way ahead for the batteries to have a significant output range without causing the dimming in brightness on the screen, the switch off in the cordless transmitter or any other energy saving method.

Why is this so hard? On the downside the design is a determining factor among various aspects.

Let’s think about what the original cell phone looked like, known as the “brick” model. Motorola DynaTAC 8000X which was commercialized in 1983 for the first time, and was 33 cm long, 4 cm wide and 9 cm high, and about one kg heavy. This phone’s battery lasted half an hour regarding the time for talking and up to eight hours of time waiting, and it took ten hours to be fully charged.

Two years earlier the world had seen the first laptop, Epson HX-20. With a size of the A4 sheet, this computer was similar to a huge calculator and had an output range of about 50 hours in use. Of course, the screen was barely 120x32 pixels, and the components energy consumption was quite low.

Over three decades later these devices enjoy an eight-hour output range on the average. The output range in the use of the device and its exploitation is significantly reduced. Isn’t it possible to make batteries more efficient?
Surely yes, but more space is needed, today’s terminals don’t allow it. Given the slim size of the cell phones and the laptops, batteries cannot have a longer life.
Another factor is the operating system. Android, which is predominant in the mobiles, has streamlined the use of batteries. However, by adopting this software in the personalized way the manufacturers condition in great measure the output range since they regulate their battery power capacity.

As for Apple, being a top-down company which controls the iPhone manufacture, as well as the development of the operating system from inside and the commercial distribution of the finished product, are inclined to the perception of a higher range but is limited by the technological availability.

Bricks no, There are other ways

The return to brick-sized phones will not be necessary to have long-lasting devices regarding energy. New technologies are underway making the batteries more efficient.

Instead of enlarging the size of the batteries, many manufacturers seek a faster loading. Such is the case of Li-Po batteries, a spin-off from the lithium-ion batteries, based on polymers enabling a faster loading speed.

Mobile devices like OnePlus One, Sony Xperia Z4, Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and Motorola Droid Turbo, among others, load 25 % of capacity in 15 minutes by using this technology, as reported by Phone Arena.

In the short run, as the source indicates, the lithium batteries will have more ions and a composition of graphene and silicon. The latter offers higher energy storage capacity.

Other batteries in development are those of aluminum with graphene cathodes which can be recharged in one minute. These were developed by the Stanford University, in California, United States, although they are not yet on sale.

The same lithium-ion batteries were added Kevlar membranes at US Michigan University, a material which makes them thinner and with higher capacity. Kevlar is used in professional loudspeakers and bulletproof vests.

Other energy producing technologies exist only in theory, We are referring to garments with carbon atoms and an ionic liquid making easier the energy storage. In other words, the mobile would be connected to the T-shirt.

According to Live Science website, the utilization of the body movement producing energy to be used in devices is under study.

Finally, in the University of Washington work is underway to achieve the reception of radio waves by devices like a WiFi modem, allowing the energy storage or the automatic performance from the ether.

In the Meantime 

While the batteries become more efficient, we can take some advice to achieve a greater autonomy. According to the general consensus of some publications consulted for this report, it’s a myth to think that connecting mobile devices for loading, while they are on, ruins the batteries.

In fact, it is advisable to recharge the batteries before they have run off completely and that these should be loaded when their capacity is about 20%.
Paradoxically, it’s not good to recharge them completely, since batteries like every technological equipment are manufactured with built-in obsolescence and are generally destined for 300 and 500 cycles.

It is also advisable to use the original charger, since these are indicated by the manufacturer with the right voltage for the battery.
Last but not least, running off the batteries completely once a month calibrates them allowing a better performance.

The Windows Control Panel will Disappear                  

This was confirmed via Twitter by Brandon LeBlanc, one of those responsible for the Windows Insider program. This space, accompanying the Microsoft operating system since the XP version, will be replaced by Configuration, an application launched with Windows 10 which does not include yet all the functions of the Control Panel. Le Blanc explained that Configuration seeks to offer easier control from tablets, hybrids and other devices with tactile screens and that keeping two implementations for a single task is just a waste of resource of the PC and its development.

Translated by ESTI

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