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The battery question: What happened to Silver-Zinc?

Most people aren’t going to remember this, but about 5 years ago there was a huge push to dethrone Lithium-Ion as the battery king due to it’s dangerous nature. It may seem odd that your battery could injure you, but lest we forget how explosive and toxic our little power packs are.  The reaction to the inherent dangers of the batteries sparked a years-long competition between companies to forge the way for new battery tech, of which the most promising was the relatively clean, recyclable and more energy-dense Silver-Zinc, which boasted an impressive 40% higher performance.

For years, the excitement ramped up as more companies sang the praises of Silver-Zinc and all it’s worth.  Rumors circulated that Apple was going to use them in their MacBook Pro (Which now has a Lithium Polymer battery).  Everything was going to change and our mobile lives would become, at best estimate, 40% more mobile.  We’d see less of our tether (And car-mounted life support system) and enjoy that much extra time, use, or power with our new electronic hearts.  Life was going to be good.

And then…

… well, hell.  Nothing.

Around 2009, when all the news stories pointed out Silver-Zinc batteries from ZPower as the Next-Big-Thing, hope was high.  Then the story and the hope dropped off the precipitous face of the tech world.  Googling, Binging, or any kind of search can’t even bring up what led to the downfall of these  “miracle” batteries;  The train stopped inbetween stations, the passengers never heard from again.  Our luxurious (Though probably pricey) freedom slipped away like a greased pig down a waterslide covered in lard.

Fast forward about 3 years from when the last major stories of Silver-Zinc came to light, and we sit at the precipice of a power crisis:  We have these unbelievably powerful mobile platforms that can do things that were unheard of in the days when our biggest choice was Flip or Brick phone, or to spend the extra money on a color PDA display.  Even the meekest of smartphones have tech that rivals the best desktop computers from 10 years ago and we’re spending more time on the plug than ever before.

The tablet solution isn’t much of a solution, and a reminder of the PDA era:  Sacrifice power and productivity for the sake of being able to keep a small portion of our technology in our pockets without having to charge it ten times a day.  Tablets are where things are going, whether it be because casual users demand less of them or because power users will drive the market to make them more useful than laptops.  In either case, Lithium-Ion isn’t going to cut it.

We need a fix to this problem… and with the ever growing power of Snapdragons, Tegras, and Intel’s mobile line, we need it more than ever.  It’d be inconceivable to take a step backwards or wait out on technology because our batteries can’t handle it, but at this rate it’s going to be the featurephone users who will be only truly mobile.