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Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Challenge Lithium-Ion

Bill Joy, one of the main driving forces behind BSD Unix, Sun Microsystems and the vi editor has unveiled yesterday a…

solid-state alkaline battery at the Rocky Mountain Institute’s Energy Innovation Summit in Basalt, Colorado, that he says is safer and cheaper than the industry leader, lithium-ion. The appeal of alkaline: it could cost a tiny fraction of existing battery technologies and could be safer in delicate settings, such as aboard airplanes. “What people didn’t really realize is that alkaline batteries could be made rechargable,” Joy said in a phone interview Thursday.

But it is very early day…

The Ionic Materials investor envisions three ultimate applications for the polymer technology: consumer electronics, automotive and the power grid. But Joy acknowledged that the technology isn’t quite ready for prime-time. It has yet to be commercialized, and factories are needed to manufacture it. It could be ready for wider use within five years, he said.

The real innovator is a startup company Ionic Materials, in Woburn, Mass. The claimed breakthrough is that the company succeeded in making alkaline batteries rechargeable. According to spokesman Mike Zimmerman, the alkaline batteries would be heavier than the lithium ones, but that would be more than compensated with lower cost and higher energy density. Additionally there are environmental advantages in replacing cobalt with relatively abundant manganese and zinc. Zinc could eventually even be replaced by aluminium, reducing the battery weight below the lithium-based ones.

[bloomberg.com] – Tech Guru Bill Joy Unveils a Battery to Challenge Lithium-Ion
[nytimes.com] – A Better, Safer Battery Could Be Coming to a Laptop Near You
[wikipedia.org] – Alkaline battery
[wikipedia.org] – Lithium-ion battery
[livemint.com] – Tech guru Bill Joy unveils battery to challenge lithium-ion
[wikipedia.org] – Bill Joy
[wired.com] – Bill Joy, Why the future doesn’t need us
[wikipedia.org] – Why The Future Doesn’t Need Us

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