Three times today I've seen this headline, once at the very reputable Engadget
. But it looks like they got the headline from the mainstream media at
Reuters. What the heck, if these were water powered batteries the
world's energy problems would be solved! No, they are water activated,
not water powered, someone somewhere misunderstood what Susumu
Suzuki was saying. Either that, or they're just looking for a sweet headline.
But what they are, is still quite remarkable. They're batteries made by
a kind of powdered carbon capacitor. They produce the same amount of
energy per kg as a normal battery, but they're made entirely out of
some kind of dialectically active carbon. The amazing thing is that the
carbon particles do not connect to create a current until they are
moistened. Of course, this means that they would be extremely sensitive
to humidity. But if kept dry, they would keep their full charge
indefinitely, unlike any other kind of battery.
Also, because they're made of carbon, which is everywhere, and not
processed metal, which is hard to find, they are much cheaper (about
10% the cost of normal batteries), take less energy to produce, and
entirely non-toxic. Water-powered, they aren't. Environmentally
friendly, they are.
Imagine a place where your trusty old computer can continue to compute long after its components
have become obsolete. A place where the machine that you played
solitaire on for hours now works out complex calculations, instead of being shipped to China for questionable recycling.
The Alameda County Computer
Resource Center (ACCRC,)
where "obsolescence is just a lack of imagination," has combined two of
our favorite things, vegetable oil and old computers, in order to
create something rather surprising: supercomputers.
During MAKE: Magazine's
Maker Faire in San Mateo this past summer, ACCRC collected old
computers, clustered them and powered them using their own
vegetable-oil fueled generator. CNET donated a dual-processor 1 GHz
Pentium III server for them to use as their master node. The slave
nodes consisted entirely of discarded old computers collected during
the Maker Faire. The software ACCRC used for their supercomputer
was a modified version of ParallelKnoppix, which is a GNU/Linux Live
ACCRC not only builds supercomputers
out of discarded computers they also give away free refurbished computers
to schools, non-profit organizations, and economically and/or physically
disadvantaged individuals. It's time that we learn that 'obsolete' and 'useless' are two very different things.
The cluster from the Maker
Faire consisted of 31 PCs with a sum total processing power of 22.7 GHz and an average
733 MHz per node. Their peak power consumption on their vegetable-oil-powered generator was about 30A.
Until that micro gas-turbine power supply is available, here's a standard size AA battery
that can be recharged using its built-in USB port on a computer or
other powered USB port. They are rated at 1300mAH. While there may be
others with more capacity, it's hard to beat the convenience of the
included USB connector.
Moixa Design, the makers of the battery, also have plans for future versions including AAA and C/D size, 9 volt, and cellphone and handheld device sized batteries.
now, these are only available in the UK, but expect them to spread
quickly and be available in your particular part of the globe before
If doing away with the charger isn't green enough for you, the manufacturer sweetens the deal even more with a
free recycling program for their batteries.
It doesn’t look like we’ll be getting rid of our wireless
devices anytime soon. In fact, the number of portable electronic devices we use
is on the rise. In response to this trend, MTI Micro
has created Mobion power
. Based on direct methanol fuel cell (DMFC) technology, the Mobion
technology is a truly wireless solution, potentially liberating us from slavishly
plugging in our chargers to power outlets. Instead, refill the fuel cell with
neat (100%) methanol to recharge the battery. By removing the need for water to
be externally pumped from the cathode to the anode side for the chemical
reaction to occur and energy to be produced, their technology improves on the
traditional approach to micro fuel cell design. The result is a lighter weight,
compact and efficient fuel cell that hooks directly onto the device.
As is often the case with new technologies, the first planned
applications for the technology are in the military, government and industrial
portable electronics markets. But with a partner list that includes Samsung
Electronics, Gillette/Duracell, DuPont and Flextronics consumer applications
can’t be far behind.
Spotted at Wired NextFest