Google secretly working on new battery technology

Posted on 14 Apr 2015 by Michael Cruickshank

Google has been secretly working on new and revolutionary battery technologies according to reports by the Wall Street Journal.

The software and search company’s GoogleX division has for the last 2 years been investigating new battery designs with the aim to develop a longer-lasting energy storage solution.

A 4 person team led by battery researcher Dr Ramesh Bhardwaj has been working since 2012 on optimising pre-existing technologies such as lithium-ion batteries, as well as radical new battery approaches.

The most promising of these new batteries technologies is reportedly wafer-thin ‘solid-state’ devices which transmit electrons through a solid rather than a liquid.

Better batteries are incredibly important to Google, as they would complement many of the company’s other moonshot projects. These include its ambitious ‘Project Wing’ drone delivery system as well as its battery-electric self driving cars.

In addition, Google’s recent forays into medical technology though its Life Sciences division, including a glucose-measuring contact lens and other planned devices, could all benefit from smaller and more powerful batteries.

Industry wide battery race

The revelations that GoogleX has been working on new battery tech come as no surprise put in context of the industry-wide race for improved battery technology.

Almost every company which manufactures mobile electronic devices stands to see massive benefits from improved batteries. And the automotive sector is also keenly focused on the potential for battery improvements.

A recent study of consumer purchasing habits by IDC has shown that longer battery life is the number 1 factor that people wish for in their next smartphone, and indeed it is battery life problems that have so far crippled the wearables market.

Whichever company is the first to develop and bring to market a significantly better battery stands to gain massive financial rewards.

Currently, alongside Google, competitors such as Apple, Samsung, an electric car manufacturer Tesla Motors, are all making a push into new battery technology.

Among the most promising technologies the manufacturers are working with are batteries utilising new ‘wonder material’ graphene, as well a recently revealed new approach using flexible aluminium-ion electrodes.