Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Super Battery' Promises 50% Longer Life

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

`Super Battery' Promises 50% Longer Life

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON -- A new generation of batteries that could run that pink bunny ragged may be on the horizon: They last 50 percent longer than today's batteries, thanks to a "super-iron" component that promises to be easy and affordable to manufacture.

They're still under development, so don't look for them in local stores soon.

But researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology invented super batteries that could run CD players and flashlights -- and say the new batteries also could come in the rechargeable forms needed to power camcorders, laptop computers, even electric cars.

"Improved batteries are needed," said Stuart Licht, a chemistry professor who led the research team in trying a host of materials, from sulfur to tin, before they discovered an unusual form of iron boosts battery life.

"From the outside, the super-iron batteries look identical to conventional" AA or AAA batteries, he said in an e-mail interview from Haifa. "The difference is within, and in the much greater energy generated by the super-iron battery."

The new batteries have 50 percent more energy than traditional batteries, Licht reported in today's edition of the journal Science.

When he tested gadgets that drain batteries at extra-high rates, such as portable CD players, he found that the super iron also has extra conductivity, leading to another advantage.

"A conventional AAA-size alkaline battery may last only a few minutes at high-drain rate, but under the same conditions, a AAA super-iron battery discharges for well over an hour," he said.

Battery experts called the discovery promising.

"It's a significant advance scientifically," said Jack Winnick, a chemical engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "I think the manufacturers will be intrigued by it. The market right now for these alkaline cells is so enormous . . . that if they could make a rapid replacement, I think they would."

But Licht declined comment when asked if manufacturers already are interested in commercializing his invention. …

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