DHS gives batteries a jolt
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Long-term commercial impact?
Flexel and the DHS S&T are working to make the thin-battery material manufacturable in high volumes, which will reduce the production cost from less than a dollar for a AA-equivalent battery to "pennies," according to Mapar.
Proctor said that he believes Flexel initially will enter the market by providing power for "less-demanding" applications, such as physiological-monitoring patches that only require the battery to last 3 or 4 weeks. But by simply folding the thin-battery material in a certain way, the power or capacity of the overall solution can be increased — meaning that it has the potential to provide power needed for "more-demanding" applications that require greater voltage and longer battery life.
"It's too early to tell how long it will take to evolve into those more-demanding applications, where you are providing battery backup with huge capacity and power requirements for multiple years," Proctor said. "I don't know how long that will take us to develop."
While Proctor is admittedly "conservative" about the prospects for the thin-battery technology, Mapar noted that the prototypes already are proving to last for a year. In addition, Mapar said that he believes the technology could have a significant long-term impact on the battery industry, which has not seen the quantum-leap performance advancements that have been experienced in other aspects of the communications sector.
In fact, by using multiple layers of the thin-battery technology, Mapar believes that the technology eventually could be leveraged to help address significant commercial power issues, such as providing backup energy to cellular base stations when commercial power is unavailable and helping to charge electric/hybrid cars in the future.
"I am trying to stay away from all of these huge boxes and gadgets and power generators and so on — just shrink everything into this paper-thin battery," Mapar said. "You can tell it's a game changer — you just have so much impact on so many different applications.
"The question we have been asking is, 'What if we just stack them up and help with hybrid cars and electrical cars and so on?' I can't give you a definitive answer right now, but we are thinking along those lines, as well."