Feeds

'Hybridisation' tech to quintuple battery life

DARPA seeks box-o-lotso energy goodening gear

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

Most of us these days find battery life an annoying issue, as our increasingly puissant personal gadgetry uses juice faster and faster. Few, however, find batteries as troublesome as modern-day soldiers do - burdened as they are with lasers, optics, radios, monocle displays and other electronic paraphernalia.

Adding insult to injury for the overburdened modern grunt - who must also hump a crippling load of armour, weapons, ammo and water - is the fact that batteries generally don't live up to their full potential in actual service use. In fact, according to the renowned Pentagon brainiac-breeding bureau DARPA, it's common for war-ware to achieve endurance of "as little as 20% of theoretical capability. This operational inefficiency increases the number of batteries soldiers must carry in the field".

What's the use of inventing brilliant new technology for soldiers if they can't lift all the batteries needed to keep it running, after all? (DARPA was behind much of the nightsight tech now commonly found attached to soldiers' helmets and weapons, for instance).

Thus it is that the military boffins have decided to launch a new project, named Limits Of Thermodynamic Storage (LOTS) of Energy. This isn't intended so much to produce radical new energy storage technologies, as to wring all the juice out of existing battery kit. According to DARPA:

The program seeks to address inefficiencies in energy extraction by developing technologies that are capable of delivering the full expected run time out of a [state of the art] portable energy source.

All possible approaches, and combinations of approaches, will be considered including, but not limited to:

• hybridization via discrete components within the form factor of the energy source (e.g.: packaged electrochemical capacitor plus packaged battery)

• innate hybridization via development of multi-functional electrochemical cells (e.g.: a cell with both capacitive and faradaic energy storage functions)

• performance optimization via use of power management circuits

The idea is that initial LOTS-o-Energy devices will use the military X590 form factor, which is essentially a box which can hold ten D-cells. DARPA's chosen contractor will make such a box which will contain batteries as well as the new magic that causes them to actually give up all their juice, rather than spuriously flatlining while still crammed with energy as they now tend to.

Of course there are many other ways such kit could be useful. One of the most common problems in engineering is getting a prime mover or energy source to deliver that energy to a task efficiently. DARPA say that X590 goodened-up batteries are just the beginning: they would expect to use the same miracle-tech with other power sources such as fuel cells or stirling engines.

As with some other DARPA notions, this one has excellent potential to benefit all of humanity as well as just US troops. Well, that part of humanity which likes gadgets, anyway. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Rosetta probot drilling DENIED: Philae has its 'LEG in the AIR'
NOT best position for scientific fulfillment
'Yes, yes... YES!' Philae lands on COMET 67P
Plucky probot aces landing on high-speed space rock - emotional scenes in Darmstadt
THERE it is! Philae comet lander FOUND in EXISTING Rosetta PICS
Crumb? Pixel? ALIEN? Better, it's a comet-catcher!
SEX BEAST SEALS may be egging each other on to ATTACK PENGUINS
Boffin: 'I think the behaviour is increasing in frequency'
HUMAN DNA 'will be FOUND ON MOON' – rocking boffin Brian Cox
Crowdfund plan to stimulate Blighty's space programme
Post-pub nosh neckfiller: The MIGHTY Scotch egg
Off to the boozer? This delicacy might help mitigate the effects
I'M SO SORRY, sobs Rosetta Brit boffin in 'sexist' sexy shirt storm
'He is just being himself' says proud mum of larger-than-life physicist
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
prev story

Whitepapers

Choosing cloud Backup services
Demystify how you can address your data protection needs in your small- to medium-sized business and select the best online backup service to meet your needs.
Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Getting ahead of the compliance curve
Learn about new services that make it easy to discover and manage certificates across the enterprise and how to get ahead of the compliance curve.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.