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Innovation

Wouldn't it be cool if your could recharge your portable devices in 90 seconds?

Over the weekend I've had the opportunity to play with a tactical flashlight powered not by batteries but ultra-capacitors. The advantage is that unlike rechargeable batteries, ultra-capacitors literally take seconds to recharge. Wouldn't it be cool would it be to have a cellphone or notebook/netbook that recharged that quickly.

Over the weekend I've had the opportunity to play with a tactical flashlight powered not by batteries but ultra-capacitors. The advantage is that unlike rechargeable batteries, ultra-capacitors literally take seconds to recharge. Wouldn't it be cool would it be to have a cellphone or notebook/netbook that recharged that quickly.

The flashlight in question is Tactical 5.11's Light for Life UC3.400. This is a 3-LED tactical flashlight that can deliver 270 lumens of light. It also has a particularly nasty strobe feature that leaves you feeling rather odd and disoriented when hit with it (trust me ...).

But the part of the flashlight that really interests me is the ability to recharge the light from a completely discharged state in 90 seconds. That's right, a minute and a half. I didn't believe it initially, but I've tested it and the claim is spot-on. 90 seconds charge time equals a total running time of 120 minutes. And the charger isn't mains powered either, it's a 12V DC charger that runs from a car cord.

The energy storage system, called Flashpoint and developed in partnership with IVUS Energy Innovations makes use of ultra-capacitors that is rated for 50,000 charge/discharge cycles with virtually no degradation (it retains 96% of its peak capacity).

Now, I know that there's a difference in power consumption between a flashlight and a notebook, and that there are issues in getting the technology ready for consumer electronics, but this technology is certainly interesting. When it comes to portable devices, the battery is a weak link. Long charge times can be a major pain in the rear, and even the best batteries seem to degrade over a few years to the point where they need replacing. This is becoming a bigger problem as vendors make is harder to replace the battery.

Having played with this technology, I certainly think that it has the legs to make big strides into consumer electronics.

Fast recharge times, high charge/discharge cycles, virtually no performance degradation, land landfill ... what's not to like. Watch out Li-Ion technology, your days are numbered.

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