The science behind modern battery developments is enough to make one’s head spin. But it doesn’t take a genius to understand that there’s a limited supply of lithium out there. And some sources suggest that with hybrid and electric cars’ popularity on the rise, that supply might not last as long as we think. Could the auto industry trump tool manufacturers in the race to the last lithium deposits?
Hopefully it won’t matter. The Technion-Israel Institute of Technology announced last week that they’ve successfully tested a battery that ditches the metal cathode and toxic anode structure common in current batteries, replacing them with air and oxidized silicon, respectively.
Granted, the prototype isn’t rechargeable — yet — and currently represents only a proof of concept. But the Institute suggests that more common applications could arrive in as little as ten years, and could usher in an era of cheaper, simpler, and safer-for-the-environment batteries.
But back to the auto industry for a moment. As far as I can see, a limited lithium supply might benefit Toolmongers. The auto industry’s need for more efficient batteries directly caused the development and refinement of lithium-ion technology for large applications. I’m not sure that any tool manufacturers could’ve funded and directed the research and development on their own. Maybe this is our opportunity to ride the auto industry’s back again — to better cordless tools.