Body Batteries

By Roland Piquepaille

At Argonne National Laboratory (ANL), researchers are using new materials to build new and more efficient batteries to put in the vests that will wear next-generation soldiers. For example, the future Army's Power Vest will use lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries which will deliver almost twice energy as current Li-ion ones. But Argonne scientists are also developing implantable batteries. These rechargeable batteries, which are 100 times smaller than a standard AA battery, can power implantable microstimulator systems designed to help patients with neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease, or muscular impairments. These batteries are currently under evaluation by industrial partners and should soon be available. Read more...

The ANL news release is almost written in PR lingo, so you'll find below only short excerpts of it. Let's start with the body batteries.

Below is a picture of "the world's smallest cylindrical, rechargeable battery ever made. It is 100 times smaller than a standard AA battery." (Credit: ANL)

Argonne's implantable battery
With research partners Quallion LLC and the University of Wisconsin, Argonne developed the battery chemistry for a tiny rechargeable battery -- the smallest cylindrical polymer rechargeable battery ever made. The battery is 100 times smaller than a standard AA battery, and powers an implantable microstimulator system designed to help patients with neurological disorders and muscular impairments, such as stroke, Parkinson's disease and urinary incontinence.
These microstimulator systems would be implanted near nerves, where they emit electrical micropulses that stimulate nearby muscles and nerves. Batteries previously used for medical devices are large, have short lives and are not rechargeable.

Quallion is already selling implantable batteries and here are its I SERIES Specifications.

Now, let's look at the wearable batteries designed for the Army at ANL's Chemical Engineering Division known as CMT.

The Army's Power Vest requires almost double the best energy density currently available and safe, stable operation at varying temperatures. Some of CMT's patented electrode materials and one of its electrolyte systems are being adapted for the Power Vest.
Compared to conventional materials, Argonne's new cathode material extends the useable capacity from 150 milliampere-hours per gram to 260. When combined with Argonne's new process for making spherical dense cathode particles, the combination could provide a 40 percent increase in available energy from the same size battery.

If you're interested by these developments of new batteries at ANL, you should check this page about their lithium battery technology patents.

Sources: Evelyn Brown, Argonne National Laboratory news release, June 24, 2005; and various web sites

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