We have long accepted the image of the 21st century that includes iPhones and robots and flat screen televisions and electric vehicles…
Now, a research group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology is creating the latest in new-wave technology: rechargeable fabric batteries.
That’s right. Rechargeable batteries are no longer reserved for your cell phone and laptop…
A specific kind of lithium-ion battery technology developed by a team of Boston-based researchers is malleable, can be shaped or woven intofabric, and then used to power portable electronics.
Essentially, these new batteries have the ability to turn what you wear into a rechargeable battery pack…
Last week, a research team from MIT unveiled the results and itsreport on the status of a lithium-ion battery development at theAmerican Chemical Society’s National Meeting.
The team explained their use of a common and non-harmful virus called M13 bacteriophage for their battery technology that is replacing otherwise harmful chemicals so often used in the manufacture of batteries.
(The technology is further work from MIT scientist Angela Belcher and her team; last year, the same team engineered a virus as a biotemplatefor preparing lithium ion battery anodes and cathodes — the same virusutilized in the development of the "wearable" batteries the team isworking to develop now.)
"Using M13 bacteriophage as a template is an example of greenchemistry, an environmentally friendly method of producing thebattery… It enables the processing of all materials at roomtemperature and in water," explained Mark Allen, a Ph.D. and member ofthe MIT research team.
The batteries the team hopes to create in using M13 bateriophage technology will be lightweight and safer to use than other lithium-ion batteries, which produce more heat and are therefore more flammable.
The U.S. military is paying particular attention to the progress of the MIT team’s battery project — and for good reason.
If the military has the option to manufacture clothing and equipmentwith batteries that can be woven into the fabric, uniforms have thepotential to be more efficient, and equipment easier for soldiers tomanage, improving overall performance and quality of work for soldiers.
And since the batteries can also be poured or sprayed into containers of any size or shape, they would allow shells or other parts of devices to double as a power source.
According to Allen, "Typical soldiers have to carry several pounds of batteries. But if you could turn their clothing into a battery pack,they could drop a lot of weight.”
If clothing acts essentially as a rechargeable battery pack, there’s a lot of potential for more comfortable and efficient travel andlifestyle — and not just for American soldiers.
This technology could appeal to anyone who’s traveled for work with a heavy laptop or camera… Or gone hiking or camping without convenientelectrical outlets to recharge battery-operated gear… Or been strandedon a highway with a flat tire and a dead mobile phone or GPS…
The possibilities for this kind of lithium-battery technology are endless.
I look forward to hearing more about the team at MIT’s continuing developments with this project.
MIT Research Unveils New Lithium-Ion Battery originally appeared in Green Chip Stocks. Green Chip Review is a free 2x-per-week newsletter, is the firstadvisory to focus exclusively on investments in alternative andrenewable energies.