Although in development since the 1960s, NASA has recently completed two years of cycling in low earth orbit to prove the sodium sulfur cell's viability for future space missions.
It uses sodium and sulfur as the electrodes, and a solid beta alumina ceramic as the electrolyte. The end result is a battery that produces 150 W-hr/kg on the cell level, and weighs half as much as nickel-hydrogen technology.
Chuck Donet, Air Force Research Laboratory, Space Vehicles Directorate, 3550 Aberdeen Ave. S.E., Kirtland AFB, NM 87117-5776; (505) 846-4899.
During a teardown of the iPad Air and Microsoft Surface Pro 3 at the Medical Design & Manufacturing Show in Schaumburg, Ill., an engineer showed this "inflammatory" video about the dangers of maliciously mishandling lithium-ion batteries.
Science fiction author Isaac Asimov may have the best rules for effective brainstorming and creativity. His never-before-published essay, "On Creativity," recently made it to the Web pages of MIT Technology Review.
Much has been made over the potentially dangerous flammability of lithium-ion batteries after major companies like Boeing, Sony, and Tesla have grappled with well-publicized battery fires. Researchers at Stanford University may have come up with a solution to this problem with a smart sensor for lithium-ion batteries that provides a warning if the battery is about to overheat or catch fire.
In this new Design News feature, "How it Works," we’re starting off by examining the inner workings of the electronic cigarette. While e-cigarettes seemed like a gimmick just two or three years ago, they’re catching fire -- so to speak. Sales topped $1 billion last year and are set to hit $10 billion by 2017. Cigarette companies are fighting back by buying up e-cigarette manufacturers.
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