LIFESTYLE

Powering the Future

Batteries are indispensible in today’s world. They’re also expected to play a leading role in the “next big thing.” Get a glimpse of the developments underway.

04.01.2017 - Kevin McLachlan, Vice President, Portfolio Manager

Powering The Future

Batteries are an indispensable part of our mobile world, powering everything from headsets to phones to tablets to laptops. Those everyday lithium-ion items represent a 1991 technology and, as recent fire issues in Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 phone highlight, they are not perfect. What comes next in the world of batteries is expected to play a leading role in shaping the “next big thing.” Think even smaller and even bigger batteries, think energy storage systems. Then consider potential ripple effects such as long-running, cost-effective electric vehicles. Consider that, when paired with solar systems, batteries are increasingly seen as an important household power solution in countries like Germany and Australia.

While manufacturers have improved lithium-ion batteries over the years, there is pressure for a new commercial battery technology—one that offers both greater storage capacity and lower manufacturing costs. Commercializing an improved alternative is a tall order and work is underway worldwide. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy funded an estimated 75 energy-storage research projects in 2016, alongside numerous other privately funded research projects and startups.

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