IBM backs research behind Lithium-ion battery alternative

Looks like more people have it in for the Lithium-ion batteries. IBM is the latest company to undertake a research initiative focused on next-generation rechargeable battery options, ones that it says can store up to 10 times more energy than today's Lithium-ion versions.

Looks like more people have it in for the Lithium-ion batteries. IBM is the latest company to undertake a research initiative focused on next-generation rechargeable battery options, ones that it says can store up to 10 times more energy than today's Lithium-ion versions.

IBM doesn't plan to do this alone, nor does it plan to manufacture batteries. Rather, it is assembling researchers who could play a role in this technology—from nanotechnologists to chemists—during a two-day meeting at its Almaden research laboratory on Aug. 26 and Aug. 27, 2009. The focus of the meeting will be on alternatives using rechargeable Lithium-air systems. Of course, if any intellectual property emerges, IBM is all ears.

The technology in Lithium-air batteries will use oxygen from ambient air to help power themselves. The theory is that they'll be able to create more energy per inch than Lithium-ion alternatives, and they should be less prone to chemical reactions that could cause them to burst into flames.

This story in BusinessWeek provides good context for IBM's efforts, as well as other companies that are researching this energy generation area, including General Electric.

What it all means for you, the IT manager, isn't something you're likely to see in the short term. But ultimately, the work could span more efficient alternatives for gadgets of all types. Mostly, we think of notebooks and Lithium-ion in the same sentence, but if the new technology is that good, maybe we should start thinking about running other computing devices purely off battery power, such as printers or desktops or (yes, I know it's blasphemy) servers.

This link provides a rather technical explanation of Lithium-air technology.

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