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Batteries on the March
Jamais Cascio, 28 Jun 05

In the 1980s, there was much talk about "spin-off" technologies from government research, particularly military research -- devices and ideas first developed to benefit the Pentagon, and later used by the far larger civilian market (for example, the Global Positioning System). In the 1990s, the flow of ideas reversed, and political economists started to talk about "spin-on" technologies, a clumsy neologism covering the use by the military of off-the-shelf devices for reasons of cost, size or capabilities(for example, hand-held GPS units). We may be moving back towards the spin-off scenario, however, in the realm of portable power.

PhysOrg has the latest example of this: advanced Lithium-ion batteries with up to 40% more power than standard batteries of equivalent sizes. The batteries are intended for use in power vests to be worn by soldiers, powering the variety of electronic gear carried by modern infantry. As such, the batteries need to operate in a far greater temperature range, be more rugged, and last significantly longer than off-the-shelf batteries.

Those characteristics are also precisely the ones needed for more reliable batteries for electric vehicles, and the batteries look to be able to scale up in order to meet that demand. The improved battery technology also scales way down, for use in implantable medical devices.

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