Cell Phone Batteries

When I first started using rechargeable batteries, the prevailing tech was Nickel Cadmium - and they had a memory effect. You know, the thing that happens if you charge them only half way - they will learn to become half power and get stuck in an operating limit that is half their charge. Lithium Ion batteries, the kind in your cellphone - do not have that effect. You can charge them as much as you want.

However, you still have something of a memory life effect - you need to try to limit the total amount of charging that's going on with your phone, because the action of charging a Li Ion battery causes deposits within the battery that over time destroy the battery.

The battery responds to heat. If you're trapped in the wild and your battery dies - you can get off one SOS call by taking the battery out and heating it. You will likely have enough electricity to make one more call. But if you're using your phone on a daily basis, don't drain it all the way down. Try to charge it before the phone turns off, because these cellphone batteries really don't like to be completely discharged.

How long does an average Li Ion battery last? That's a good question. If you're in a moderate climate, the battery will die off by about 20% per year. So in two years, you have almost half the battery power you did before. This looms large when you're buying electric cars. The battery will eventually die out on you. However, the batteries in these things are pretty specialized and intended to last longer. You might get four years before you change out batteries. Hopefully a new battery won't be too expensive by then.

But for your cellphone, you should replace your battery every two years. Most people just replace their phone every two years. The main thing to remember is that if its kept cool, it won't die as fast. Cooking your phone above 70 degrees will make it lose almost 35% of its charge. Cellphones die faster in the Caribbean.

A better battery would be a nuclear one, but that is a far horizon technology. Sticking with Li Ion for a while, the most likely innovation to come would be a rapid recharge technology that has been developed by Georgia Tech. It relies on nano tech to create a rapid transport inside the battery so that your cellphone battery recharges in seconds. Toshiba created a commercial version of the battery, that will find its way into electric cars.

If you take a bunch of Li On batteries and connect them up in parallel, you can sensor the whole thing and get a good power output - each cell can switch to recharge before it gets too low and the single cell replacements can be pretty manageable. Also, for electric cars, it would allow a driver to have an emergency battery back in the back that he could plug in - to get enough range to make it to a safe charging station, should he or she run out of power. So believe it or not, the best way to power an electric car is to wire up a whole bunch of little cell phone batteries in parallel.

A Lithium Ion battery is really one of the better batteries out there, to have. If in principle, a Li Ion battery could be made where instead of an Ion on the other side - there was pure Air (LiO2) , we'd have one of the problems up there go away - namely that we could get alot of air and so easily replace one of the terminals that fogs up over time and decreases battery performance (the Lithium side of the battery would still fog out), but more importantly the energy density would double. So you'd be able to have a cellphone battery that would last twice as long, and hold twice as much charge. A Lithium Air battery would be a game changer. Solar cells could charge them, and store enough power to be able to compete easily with gas. The New York Times reports that you could easily go 400 miles on a single charge. What is attractive about the electric car is that such an upgrade would be plug and play.

The Hybrids are getting really great mileage out of their batteries - almost 100,000 miles. The replacement cost of a full battery might be as high as 2,500.00 but if you have single cell replacements, you can replace them bit by bit, probably very inexpensively (assuming the car manufacturer takes pity on us and lets us use standardized cells).

Which is why, my beautiful, old Volvo is the last gas powered car I will ever buy. The next car will be a Tesla. It's 0-60 in under six seconds, seats four super comfortably , and it has a 300 mile range on the Li Ion. And it's powered by an array of cell phone batteries.