Electronic Products & Technology


Wearables, bioelectronics seek better energy storage

Diverse personal medical devices including implants are demanding light, flexible, powerful and safe energy storage solutions, pushing the boundaries of batteries.

Energy storage players are eyeing emerging opportunities in bioelectronics as wearable, implantable and other medical devices create energy demands and design requirements beyond conventional batteries, according to Boston-based Lux Research.

Existing battery solutions barely satisfy the demands for increased functionality and power in existing medical devices and may have slowed the shift toward personalized health care in many areas of medicine.

“Developers of energy storage must understand the required application-specific optimization of batteries, based on performance and safety, and desired form factors,” says Milos Todorovic, Lux Research analyst and lead author of the report titled, Powerful Medicine: Opportunities for Pairing New Bioelectronics with Innovative Energy Storage.

“Winning in this race will require a thorough understanding of key technical requirements as well as the knowledge of regulatory and safety implications of bringing new energy storage to the fore,” he added.

Lux Research analysts identified key demands arising from the novel medical technologies, and evaluated energy storage companies on the proprietary Lux Innovation Grid.

Among their findings:

* Li-ion batteries will make rapid strides. Newer lithium-ion batteries will advance both safety and performance, besides extending life span. Compared with today’s best batteries, those that will become available in 2025 will double energy density to over 1,200 Wh/L, more than double specific energy to over 400 Wh/kg, quintuple life span to over 25 years and raise safety standards to excellent, from mediocre to satisfactory.

* EaglePitcher, WiTricity, FlexEI are standout companies. On the Lux Innovation Grid, three companies offering diverse technologies stood out as dominant in the upper right quadrant. EaglePitcher’s batteries are entrenched in energy storage niches, including military, medical and aerospace; WiTricity leads with its wireless charging technology, a potential life-saving feature; and FlexEI offers contract engineering for custom batteries, with form factors including thin-film and cylindrical cells.

* Current Li-ion developers lag. On the Lux Innovation Grid, Li-ion developers are clustered mostly in the lower-right undistinguished corner, with mediocre technology and business execution, highlighting the need to push beyond today’s incumbent technologies. To succeed, Li-ion battery companies would need to develop flexible form factors without sacrificing energy stored, sharply raise energy density with a push towards next-generation designs like ceramic or polymer solid-state electrolytes, and also enhance safety.