Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Look around any room in your home and you’re likely to find at least one item that requires batteries to function.

Readily available in grocery and convenience stores, battery brands such as Rayovac or Duracell power a wide variety of household electronics ranging from toys and flashlights to remote control units and cameras. The non-rechargeable alkaline battery remains the most common single-use battery in the U.S.

Perry Motsegood researches ways to improve the alkaline battery. As a Ph.D. student in the Johna Leddy Lab in the UI’s Department of Chemistry, Motsegood incorporates magnetic micro particles into the battery—an innovation unique to the Ledde Lab. "We are currently writing a full patent application for the process we’ve developed," said Motsegood. "The research we’ve done has allowed us to find exactly the right balance of materials formulated to be stable in the very caustic, alkaline environment of the battery, while still delivering maximum output."

For consumers, Motsegood’s research means finding ways to get more out of each battery. This saves money and reduces waste, which is better for the planet.

For associate professor and mentor Johna Leddy, Motsegood’s work on the project has proved invaluable. "Perry has built the first full batteries in the lab. Before Perry, we had only made modified electrodes. Building a full battery system is a far higher level of complexity," said Leddy. "Because of his attention to detail, Perry has demonstrated the first magnetically modified alkaline batteries with improved performance.

As Motsegood continues his research, he not only perfects the process in the lab but also collaborates with manufacturers to transfer the technology. Leddy explains, "If this technology can be effectively ported from the lab to the manufacturing sector, then primary alkaline batteries can be improved perhaps as much as 20 to 30 percent with minimal change in manufacturing and materials cost. For the consumer, this means a battery that lasts longer with higher power (rate) and energy."