It all started with a simple question: How can I make my laptop’s battery last longer than a standard lithium-ion battery?
The question, first asked in a blog post in 2011 by a professor at the University of Michigan, has led to a series of experiments and a host of patents.
The work is funded by the US Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation.
The aluminum, carbon fiber, and metal alloys in the battery have been combined with the power source, a battery charger, and a battery cell to produce a new kind of battery.
“We are using these batteries to power the computer in a robot,” says David L. Satterfield, an electrical engineering professor at Michigan.
“It’s an exciting way to store electricity.”
Lithium-ion batteries use lithium atoms that are arranged in a series.
This allows them to store energy in a state of constant flow, without needing to be constantly charged or discharged.
But lithium-iron batteries use a different arrangement of lithium atoms, and are used to store power when the battery is not in use.
“If you had a Li-ion cell that was in your pocket or in your purse, it was just a Li cell,” says Satterland.
“When you take it out of your pocket and put it in your car, you put it away and you don’t have to charge it.
But if you take that same Li cell and you take the same battery out of the car and put that into your pocket, you have to recharge that Li cell.”
When lithium-air batteries are used for a car, they have to be charged to maintain the current flowing.
So in order to make this work, a new battery cell was needed.
“I wanted to create a battery that was a little more durable,” says Andrew C. Pang, an associate professor of electrical engineering at Michigan who is working on a new lithium-metal battery.
“This was a really cool opportunity to go and find an all-metal material that we can combine and then make a new all-carbon battery that would be as good or better than anything that has been created before.”
The researchers have created the new battery by combining two materials: aluminum and carbon fiber.
They used aluminum to form the outer shell of the battery and then added carbon fiber to form an outer shell.
Pangs and Satter found that the combination of aluminum and a carbon fiber battery is better than aluminum alone.
“The aluminum is stronger than the carbon fiber,” says Pang.
“So it makes up for the weak carbon fiber by a lot.”
Aluminum is used in many applications, from electronic components to aircraft engines to aircraft wings.
But its use is limited.
In the United States, aluminum is the largest component used in the production of batteries.
In 2015, the US government estimated that about a quarter of all batteries used in cars were made with aluminum.
“When you are making an all metal battery, you’re actually taking away a lot of the strength that you would get from a carbon-carbon hybrid,” says C. Thomas Tinsley, a professor of materials science and engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology who is a member of the group.
“There’s a lot more friction, there’s a ton more moving parts.”
To create a better battery, Pangs, Satter, and colleagues used a combination of metals that are naturally occurring.
They combined the metals to form a composite, which they then shaped into a battery.
The composite consists of a carbon nanotube (CNT) material with a silicon carbide core, which is the same material as used in lithium-titanium batteries.
The two materials are combined with a polymer (poly(ethylene glycol) or PEG) to create an alloys that resist corrosion and wear.
“These batteries have very good chemical stability, and they also have a lot longer life than lithium-sulphur batteries,” says L. Peter Diamandis, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Tech who is not a part of the research.
“What makes the PEG-based batteries better is the combination with aluminum,” says Tinsly.
“You can get the strength from aluminum without the heavy weight of lithium.”
Pang and his team used this combination of materials to make a battery with a range of capacities ranging from 4,000 to 8,000 cycles per hour.
“This is a huge improvement over lithium-based battery technology,” says Peter R. Fessler, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.
“We’ve taken a very simple, cheap, scalable, high performance material that’s readily available, and then we’ve combined it with an aluminum material that has very good mechanical stability and low thermal runaway.”
The battery also has an energy density of 5.5 watts per kilogram of weight per square meter.
It also has a range that is 50 percent greater than a lithium-steel battery, which has a rating of 7.5 volts