Scientists now know why rechargeable batteries go bad, and may know how to fix them

Batteries
By Simon Sage on 29 May 2014 03:27 pm EDT
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Sweet, sweet science is on its way to finding a cure for how lithium-ion batteries (like the one in your phone) lose their ability to hold a charge over time. Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley, Brookhaven, and Stanford have found a pattern to the erosion that happens at both anode and cathode ends of the battery, when previously it was assumed the erosion was uniform. The salt that forms at the anode side and the metallic erosion on the cathode side both latch onto microscopic imperfections, kind of like how a water droplets latch onto a piece of dirt to begin forming rain or a snowflake.

With deeper understanding of these erosion patterns, researchers are already digging into solutions to the problem. Scientists at Berkeley are already working on a powder that will counteract small-scale imperfections on the anodes and improve overall battery life.

This research is still in the early stages, so it's hard to say exactly how much more long-term battery life we can eventually expect from this research, but it sure is promising. We use lithium-ion batteries a lot, and since the core battery technology doesn't change often, every improvement we see is welcome. Be sure to dig into the article at the source link for more of the scientific nitty-gritty.

Are you happy with your phone's battery life? How long is it until your battery can't hold a respectable charge anymore?

Source: BNL; Via: Gizmodo

Reader comments

Scientists now know why rechargeable batteries go bad, and may know how to fix them

120 Comments

I bet Tesla is really pushing and testing for this technology. Their whole company is based on battery use and recharge

Posted via CB10

Absolutely. Tesla is a great company with great innovations and yet conservative American government still attempts to block them... but free market yay!?!!

Z10STL100-3/10.2.1.3175

Tesla kicks ass but back to the battery dilemma, they should work on improving the time between charges rather than how long it lasts. I've been replacing batteries yearly even back in the bbos days which doesn't bother me, things die.

Now the time between charges ::cough:: z10 ::cough:: is painful and it hurts to pay money to replace the same crappy battery. If it has dual processor like a laptop maybe the Mah should match that of a laptop.

If you don't know how to make those, get the scientists on it.

Need to let BlackBerry employees go? Start with the entire BlackBerry Link team including the "genius" behind the idea. ;^L

As far as mobile devices go I'd rather they improve the quality and useful life of them than focus in battery improvements. Your phone will die from other components failing or become functionally obsolete long before the battery is no longer useful.

Posted via CB10

Even as a phone user I don't agree with his suggestion. I take pretty good care of my phones and to date....my first sign of disappointment comes from the battery life. It's not until after I've had battery issues that something else may start to give me problems. Now, I appreciate the ability to swap out batteries....but i don't want that to be a an excuse for not improving them.

This is not just about Cell Phones, it is about battery improvements in anything that uses them.

Posted via CB10

Amen to that brother! As soon as I put the official 10.2.1 release on my phone my battery started tanking.

Even did a clean wipe and reloaded everything manually (not from a backup) and still my Z10 battery life is garbage.

Posted via CB10

Not sure you are talking about BlackBerry phones. The *only* piece of hardware that tends to "wear out " is the battery. (Or maybe the qwerty keypad's paint). Everything else is rock solid.

Posted via CB10

My girlfriend is still using my 8330, which is well over five years old and it's only on its third battery. So your statement is worthless.

Posted via CB10

One case where the battery held up isn't valid enough to counter everyone's argument. Also, they wouldn't be doing research if most batteries lasted long. Plus she's still on her third one. If tech for batteries was better it could be the original or second. Lastly, battery tech for the 8330 matches the performance of the phone. Nowadays we have super powerful devices but absolutely lacking batteries.

CB App via Nexus 5

my Z30 rocks over 36 hours on a charge, and I'm a heavy user (with 100's of email, calendaring, conf calls, etc, all day, every day)... that's good enough for me - for now.

That's mouth watering.. my Q10 maxes out at 10 under your same conditions.. I would say they work on a way to make us charge like only once every week even under heavy usage now THAT would be awesome.

Posted Using the magical typings of da "Q"

Technology gets better every 4 or 5 months but we rarely see a huge step in battery tech. I for one embrace this as I miss a feature phone for it solid 4 or 5 day battery life.

 BlackBerry Q10  Keep The Faith 

At the moment my Z10 is out lasting the batteries. Despite the battery issues, the Z10 is the most durable phone I have ever owned.

Posted via CB10

People are used to crap android phones that fall apart. My nexus one fell apart in less than a year. Such a bad phone. This phone is practically pristine. I'd be hard pressed to see any signs of wear and it's just in the leather pouch, no case!

Posted via CB10

Oh common! Hold your horses, let's be real.

I have the galaxy s2 which I had tortured it plus many drops, including on concrete floor, and still works perfectly after 3 years. No cracks on the display.

Also, my brother has a galaxy s1 (4 years old) and works fine. He dropped multiple times, now the glass has a fissure but the phone (and touchscreen) just works fine.

So my experience with 'crap android phones' is extremely good when we talk about robustness.

Just don't generalize.

Posted via CB10

Oh and I forgot to say that I don't like to use any type of cases on any phone that i'm carrying as my main phone. Simple naked.

Posted via CB10

Battery life isn't the greatest on my z10. I can get about 6-8 hrs on a full charge depending on how I use it.

Posted via Z10

Of course, I'm a pretty heavy user.

Due to battery life, I can't even contemplate playing a game I have access to a charger.

The Z10 battery pack is an absolute necessity for me.

Posted via CB10

BlackBerry should invest in this technology.

Imagine a smartphone that could last as long as a Kindle e- reader on a single charge?

Posted via CB10

you will in about 2 years time and you cannot replaced it unless you have the right skill set to remove the back plate. but by then you would have moved on to another device anyhow.

Yes. It is much better than that of Z10 but it still does not last more than 24 hours with heavy use. So if you are flying to Asia from Toronto, you still have to worry about getting a plug on Air Canada 'cause most airports and airlines would not accommodate you...
So far, my phones and PlayBook have outlasted their batteries and I already worry about when the z30 battery will start to fail.

Posted via CB10

The article is not about charge retention time, but about the typical loose of charge capacity by time. It is very common that the battery need replacement in two or three years because it can't retain charge.

God Bless You!

I'm not happy with the Z10 battery life. I need at least 4 more hours. I'm jealous of my wife's Z30; It lasts for two and half days!

Posted via CB10

I bought the gold high capacity battery for my Z10 and it now lasts all day, best £ 14 I've ever spent and I carry the original battery around with me just in case but I haven't needed it in about 6 months.

Posted via CB10

Those gold batteries are mislabeled. The battery is actually less powerful than the OEM battery.

Formula for mAh is simple: mAh = Whr (Watt hours or discharge rate) X 1,000 divided by Volts. Let's use the information provided on the label.

In this case: 5.25 X 1,000 = 5,250. Divided by 3.8 Volts or 1,382 mAh. Not nearly the claimed 2,680. In fact, less than the standard LS-1. Nice right?

Well mine is brilliant - I would say I get 30-40% longer use now and I've been using it for about 6 months. It was recommended by one of my clients who bought about 50 of them for their sales force after complaints about battery life of their z10.

Posted via CB10

I ended up returning 2 golds a while back. The battery they were supposed to replace was outlasting them. So the experience confirms your findings.

Don Diego endorses the Zed.

There are some companies that make great high capacity batteries, but those gold ones directly from China are crap. I got one for my Q10 and gave it a couple weeks and the OEM was better. For when I travel I picked up one of those cases that have the 3200 mAh battery attached to it and you just slide your phone in it... has a kick stand.....Super awesome!

How's that signature ya crybabies!?

Battery technology needs to improve. Hybrid/electric car technology longevity reliabilty is going to need improved battery technology.

Posted via CB10

It is sad that it took them this long I am pretty sure even people that don't even have a high school diploma are aware that over time things wear out from use. I want a solution to put on my shoes and clothes so they will last forever.

Z30 battery is amazing for a smartphone. When you have all that stuff running in the background of your android device your battery is going to take a hit. It's got better though with devices like the LG Flex, G2, and S4.

How's that signature ya bunch of crybabies!

Ask and you shall receive! LOL!

Swiped via CB10 with my T-Mobile USA (Only T-Mo rep still pushing  ) new  BlackBerry Z30 (STA100-5), son! The Thor's Hammer of phones! Member of "Club Z30 "..... the most exclusive club in mobile. Once you go BlackBerry, everything else is wack-berry! #longestsignatureeverthatishortenedabit

Battery tech is so far behind the rest of things we always have to find ways around. Glad this is something that may help but we need next gen items to come up as well.

Posted via CB10 on my blazing fast Z30

Won't be happy until I never have to recharge, but with my Z30 I find I'm charging and going further into my day and even the next without it.

100% BlackBerry

Hundreds and hundreds of battery hours can be saved!!!

At the cost of billions and trillions because the rich need more money.

Posted via CB10

Sounds like they are using some sort of nano partials to fill the defects. Nano partials are also being used as a water and dirt repellent .dirt acts as an abrasive in fabrics weave causing excessive wear. No dirt =cloths last longer.

Posted via CB10

The Z10 on minimal screen brightness, LED notifications off, wifi off... lasts me pretty much almost a full working day, give or take 30mins charging throughout, so not bad

Posted via CB10

I hope so and then just one day everything have a built in rechargeable battery. I'm sick of paying for AAs and AAAs... and REALLY sick of C and D batteries. Eff you kids toys, you can suck my leap pad >:(

I've gotten 48+ on my q10 with very minimal use. Usually last 36ish and I'm a heavy user. Can't complain with that

I have the Z10 and contrary to what most people believe, I am perfectly happy with its battery life

Carbon Fiber Z10 w/Leather Holster

The question to be answered is how many more charge cycles this will add to the useful life. Current Li+ batteries begin to exhibit charge retention issues after 500 charge cycles. For the average cell phone, that is about 18 months. That doesn't mean it dies, it just means you will start to notice a requirement to charge more frequently. For a car, this could be significant due to the cost of larger Li+ batteries.

I can survive 8-10 hours with 50% battery on my z10. Everything is there for you to optimise how long your battery lasts.

When you think about it, battery technology has really lagged everything else in tech. Really hoping for a breakthrough that provides 10x performance of today's technology. Of course devices will then consume even more power to make up for it but it's really the biggest limiting factor. Even moreso for wearables.

Posted via CB10

I am happy with the life of my battery 1 year after I got my BBQ10. I guess utilisation practices also influences battery life but in a manner different from that of those described in the article. Still, has the existence of correlations been explored?

Posted via CB10

In my Z30 I normally only charge every second day with heavy usage. The battery is enormous. It leaves iPhone users in my dust who always seem to be running around looking for charging stations every 4 or 5 hours.

Posted from my awesome Z30 :-D

While big energy companies dominate, no revolutionary long lasting battery/fuel technology will be allowed into the public sphere. If we don't need to keep 'topping up' our cars and gadgets to keep them running, the purpose for their existence would diminish. Revolutionary technology for energy in every regard has existed for decades if not more, but has always been blocked to allow archaic methods to proceed so that profits can continue to be harvested. This applies to everything, including how often you need to charge your phone! Is it a conspiracy? In a manner of speaking, yes! :)

Posted via CB10

Not happy with my Z10 battery life. I used to make fun of the iPhone users at work who used to carry chargers around all day and now I do the same thing.

Posted via CB10

I love my z10 so much I bought and got rid of a z30 because I preferred the z10 size. I just hate the battery in the z10 but not enough to carry around that giant z30.

Posted via CB10

+1 at least you can carry around a spare battery. When the Z30 battery goes ( which it will) you've had it!

Posted via CB10

This will never pick up, mostly because there won't be any money in it for the companies if people only have to buy one battery.

Posted via CB10

So my year old Z10 battery swelled up so much it pushed the back cover off.... does that mean it's getting More Powerful! Lol.

Posted via CB10

Good! For all the money that we spend on devices, batteries should last longer. Not that I'm complaining really, my Q10 battery life is amazing.

Posted via CB10

My z10 lasts only for 6hrs even with moderate usage ( on/off FB, BBM, mobile browsing but data always on). I wish i had bought a Q10 instead. Z10 is a sooooliid phone i think it'll last for even 5 years. But the battery, next question please..

Gi pilit ra

I've had my Q10 since September and the battery life has certainly gone down a lot faster than it should be recently. The battery only lasts about 6 hours w/ out a charger.

Posted via CB10

They already have a solution to reduce charge time, it's called grapheme anode and cathode... charge time could be reduced by factor ten.... now, I guess these will hold charge much longer as well, coz no salts with grapheme ;-)

Posted via CB10

I am a firm believer in proper charging practices. If I let my battery run down well below 20% and then recharge it, it will give me a solid 12+ hours (above 20%); however that presents a problem, because then I will have to hook up to the charger when I go to bed before the battery has gone below the 20%. Which in turn shortens the charge length. But in average I will say I get a good 10 hours out of one charge.

Posted using my awesome Z10

Good Stuff,
How about using Atomic Batteries, Nuclear Batteries, Tritium Batteries for example. Who wants a 25 year lasting battery.

Fixing rechargeable batteries is kind of pointless at this point in time. With graphene super conductor advancements and graphyne being even better than graphene lithium ion batteries will be replaced in the next five years or so. Graphene super conductors hold the same charge, discharge at the same rate but can charge about 100x faster than lithium ion batteries.

Posted via CB10

Pft. Need to get Ann Makosinski on it. A cell phone that recharges from the heat from your hands. General use would charge the sucker. Now THAT is a dream.

Great news from science yet again! The battery life on my Q10 is amazing! I can still make calls in my eve classes while others have to charge their phones or turn it off ;)

Posted via CB10

I start really noticing battery charge degradation after 18-24 months of moderate daily use. At that point I'm looking to upgrade anyway because heat degrades the device as a whole after the same time frame...and I like having the new BB hottness when it arrives (more the latter).

Movie preview man voice: the year is 2014, The people..well they have lost all ability to think..they forget that there is money to be made by selling extra batteries, extra chargers and that the corporations will push back any advancement in batteries for the sake of money..the year is 2014..for humanity, all hope is gone.

I really need a good battery back up for my phone!!
Because m a hard core BlackBerry user!!
I use a lot of applications, emails etc etc on my BlackBerry Q10 so the battery won't last even 10 hrs

Posted via CB 10 via BlackBerry Q10

I have iPhone 5 and the battery life is atrocious. I m constantly having to shut my phone off in order to preserve battery for later in night when I might need it for ordering a cab or calling my wife. So annoying

Posted via CB10

I get stellar battery performance from my 6230 and my 7230 and I honestly can't remember the last time I have purchased batteries for either phone. My Curve 8310 sips battery unless it searches for a signal (using on t-mobile it does that alot) the curve 8530 I use for a mp3 player (virgin mobile was a moment for me during my last divorce) uses the same battery as the 8310 which I have 3 of and are all 2 years+ but still last all day or longer. My 9315 is 14 months old with no noticeable decrease in performance nor has the phone had any issues after going swimming. Finally that brings me to my Q10 which I have only had for 3 months or about. Too early to call it. I won't list my Android phones but really I tend to game on those which is not something I do on BlackBerry phones (maybe some gbc emu or some kinda dungeon crawler game being the exception now and then). Music is my trip on my BlackBerry both mp3 and streaming with video a close second. Mp3 I can go forever on a charge streaming vid or music not so much. Do you all game on you BlackBerry devices? If you have an Android or Idevice do you game on it? More or less then on your BlackBerry if you have both (or all three kinds of devices?).

Posted via CB10