Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Energize Me

Why are batteries still so terrible?. There will be no grand philosophical argument veiled with humour about how batteries are representative of "the man".  Today, I will just talk about batteries and their inability to light up what will certainly be a very dim future. 

I was about to watch some Netflix one weekday afternoon (as all career oriented people do) when I realized that the batteries in the Wiimote had died yet again. About four times a month I go through the process of swapping out old dead batteries for fresh new ones. Certainly the types of batteries I buy are the cheap ones but even the best quality ones don't work much longer. Rechargeable batteries are worse because they give you the illusion that they will last a long time. Realistically, the first three charges give you decent energy output but after that, they die a quick, bloated, corrosive death. 

Laptop batteries are probably the best and longest lasting batteries yet most of these "superior batteries" can only power a portable PC for just over an hour. When Laptops came out for sale about 20 years ago their big claim to fame was that you could take them anywhere. Sure you can, as long as wherever you go has an A/C outlet or you have an adapter in your car. I tried thinking of something that has been as widely used as batteries that has had little advancement over the years and all that I could think of was the Microwave. Yet even the microwave solved most of its problems with the addition of the rotating plate and the creation of those little silver pockets that you put things in to crisp them. 

Batteries have been around commonly since the early 1800's and it has been rumored that the ancient Egyptians also had several inventions that were battery like in nature. With all of this time using batteries why haven't we come up with one that lets you use the flash on your digital camera and take more than six pictures before the images start getting dark and fuzzy? There are about 7,000 laptop-like batteries in a Tesla roadster and they have a top estimated distance of 100 miles before they crap out, I guess that trip to the Grand Canyon is cancelled.

Over the last 20 years our world has become mobile. Most of us don't even have a land line anymore and yet while we keep churning out electronic devices and ways to communicate from afar we have not increased these devices abilities to stay powered. Certainly there are a few exceptions of devices who have upped their battery game but the final result is still no where near ideal. If we are headed to a fully electric future battery power is going to play a big role in that equation. If we don't start investing time and energy into charging our tomorrow then we should prepare for another Dark Age.


  1. Battery technology as a whole has had a very hard time making any advancements because of the way they work now. There is very little room to improve things like batteries unless there was a complete overhaul. There is research being done so that we can have massive battery life in things like smartphones but it is years away. The simple fact is that technology progresses much faster than what powers it and always will. Also there are some amazing rechargeable batteries out there but they are expensive. You can also always get a battery pack for the wiimote.

  2. They do have the technology to make batteries last longer,and its been around for a long while. The batteries that are used in the forces have to last a long time in case they get caught out behind enemy lines.
    My cousin is in the army he once gave me a box of batterries for my daughters xmas toys, they lasted months it was ace, saved me a packet.It just doesn't pay companys to make them last to long, its all about the money!

  3. oh the evils of batteries ... they totally could make them last longer ... but hey ... fuck the next generation eh? they say, 'i got mine jack ...' all the way to the bank ...

  4. Aren't wasted batteries toxic?
    I prefer the rechargeable ones. They make the bunny happier!