Tiny But Mighty: The Battery’s Impact on Society (FINAL DRAFT)

The battery- most used and reliable power source- looks very similar to what we would consider technology. Metallic, shiny, and loaded with patents, the battery is the epitome of technology. It may not look that sophisticated, just a piece of metal with a bump or two on either end, but it has made the population more reliant on technology. Batteries are made of metal, steel or nickel in most cases, which makes them good conductors of electricity- the fundamental function of the battery. Batteries have become an essential technology that is deeply relied on in our culture. Adopted because of a need and to solve power problems, batteries were invented and proposed into the culture. You could use plug-ins in just the same way as a battery, but in this way, the technology is still portable for the busy, always-on-the-go professions in the technological era we find ourselves in today. It took countless inventions, some with patents and others without to find the right battery for every task, technology, and problem being faced and there are still many more inventions to come.

To speak of how reliant we are on the battery, think of something that would need batteries around your dorm, apartment or house today. Typical answers would be toothbrush, flashlight, or radio, but did you think of the technology sitting in your pocket, allowing you to text, call, and skype friends or family? What about the one sitting in your backpack, allowing you to access the internet, type papers, and play games? You probably don’t think about it much because we take these batteries for granted every day. They are an “essential” part of our lives because without them technology like our cellphones would likely not exist. We rarely think of what are lives would be like without batteries; no more cellphones, no more portable laptops, no more cars, planes or buses. Life would be more difficult, but would it really?

We are so reliant on the battery, believing it makes life easier. The battery has slowly been integrated into every aspect of our lives, from the medical field to leisure time, there is at least one item that requires the use of a battery. There are several items people use every day linked to battery use; cars, phones, pacemakers and toys. As far as pacemakers go, people would literally not be able to live without batteries, and people think they would not be able to live without their phones and cars. This reliance drives home the idea that human culture looks for the easiest way to do things, but most of the time this “easy” way in the long run is extremely complex. People could easily walk or bike to and from their destination, but stepping on a gas pedal seems easier. It takes no resources or effort, other than physical ability, to walk from place to place. Resources are put into building a bicycle, like rubber for the tires and steel or titanium for the frame and physical ability to get the bike moving. Cars have so much more that go into them. Materials for the car itself, much like the bike, it needs rubber for tires and some sort of metallic frame, but there are also resources needed for the car battery, engine, radio, A/C, automatic windows, etc. Then there is the fuel. The expensive, environment-harming gas that goes into making the car move. Sure, the car gets you farther and seems easier, but in the long run is the more complex and is more of an impactful method of transportation.

Gas is not the only thing affecting the environment when it comes to cars. Batteries from the car, and other technologies that use them, have a lasting impact on the environment as well. The most often looked at way of disposal of the materials in batteries is through recycling. This is best for recycling of materials and keeping the batteries out of landfills, but in the end is more harmful for the environment. Recycling procedures put a lot of unnecessary fuels into the air, further harming the environment. If there was a way to make recycling materials more fuel efficient, recycling would be the best option for battery disposal. Throwing batteries away also poses a risk to the environment because there are traces of mercury in every battery, because it is a naturally occurring element, which could do damage to the groundwater and could potentially affect aquatic life. Destroying batteries poses similar risks to recycling and landfills. Burning the materials puts unnecessary fuel into the air and the ash from the material could get into the groundwater and harm aquatic life (Xará, 2015). The market for them is continuously growing for all the new technology that still instills the need for the batteries, so it is very important to create newer and better versions of the battery to last longer, cost less and are more suitable for the environment once they have been used up. Extensive research and development is being done on the technology and is getting to a stage where it seems very likely that relatively safe and reliable lithium-ion batteries will soon be on board hybrid electric and electric vehicles and possibly in solar panels to harness the energy being brought in by the ingenious power generator. However, the safety of the technology is still a concern and costs are still extremely high to do sufficient research on how to produce such a battery.

With the increased need for an environmentally-friendly battery, there has also been a great amount of research going into how to make batteries more eco-friendly. One source tried to find materials that were biodegradable to help reduce both the carbon footprint from creating the battery, but also how less batteries would end up in landfills. Currently, batteries use materials like zinc and potassium hydroxide for the anode, manganese dioxide, graphite, and a potassium hydroxide solution for the cathode, paper for the separator and then is wrapped in steel. Very little labor goes into the creation of these materials, a lot of chemistry however, and very little goes into combining the materials to create the battery itself thanks to the assembly line. It is mostly in the testing of the made batteries that requires human interaction with the product. Producers can get by with a staff of about 100 or so workers to create battery cells efficiently. As an example, the materials costs for a LiCoO2-based 18650 cell can be estimated at about $1.28 for the entire cell, add in labor costs, about $0.42 per battery, and for a pretty penny you can produce a battery (Daniel, 2017).  The new eco-friendly battery was made from a biodegradable plastic outer shell, lemon juice acid as the electrolyte system, and paper made from cellulose to split the system into anode and cathode; all went into making the battery eco-friendly and biodegradable, and in turn more cost effective for both the consumer and producer (Plous, 2007). Using these biodegradable batteries would reduce all the risks included in each battery disposal method and reduces the carbon footprint we have made for generations already.

Biodegradability is not the only modification of the battery being researched. As is well known, many batteries operate inefficiently, if at all, at low temperatures. The invention of a flexible battery can be used in different ways; it may be wrapped around a person, similar to an electric blanket, so that the heat radiating off the body may be used to efficiently maintain the battery’s operating level under low temperature conditions. This battery type could be used to operate transistorized radio equipment under Arctic conditions, which makes it easier for all parties involved to communicate what needs to be done in those situations. Another advantage of a flexible battery is that it may be employed in applications having limited or odd shaped-space available (Coler, 1962). This source delves into creative thoughts on how to make life simpler and more efficient which is a common theme in human culture.

Life was very different before the invention of batteries. Before batteries people relied on strength to start up their cars by cranking up the engine starter. Hand cranks relied on strength and smarts of the driver at hand. The driver had to know exact hand position, exact rotation and exact strength to start their engine, and now with just a twist of a key, or push of a button in some cases, the car starts. Lamps relied on dangerous flammable fuel and flames. Oil was set on fire and placed in jars to keep the light going when it got dark, this was a cause of many house fires when these jars were knocked over. Slowly these jars got better and eventually electricity was invented allowing for lighting to be completely electric and no longer relying on the dangerous fuel. This made them no longer portable, but flashlights were created with the help of batteries and are now being produced on a large scale to continue to help with low-light situations.  Clocks were very inaccurate relying on gravity to swing their pendulums the exact same way every second. If gravity ever changed, or the clock was bumped the time would be off. With batteries, there are no opportunities for timing to be off because of bumping or gravity. There is an opportunity for timing to be off when the battery dies, but with the lifespan of the battery, it is more likely to need a new watch before the battery ran out.

With the invention of the battery technology like cellphones, laptops, cameras and so much more have been created. Laptops rely on batteries for all their functions and can be plugged in to work as well, but are meant to be portable which is why they rely on a battery and not on plug-ins alone. Digital cameras are powered by batteries in order to edit a photo, post the photo to social media, and share with others. Other cameras prior to digital cameras used light exposure to create the picture, but this makes them not able to be shared or edited. Alarms, such as fire or carbon monoxide, rely on the battery and warn owners if there are any dangers with in the house. With the reliability on batteries, alarms will still work if the power goes out in the house unexpectedly and will still protect homeowners from being completely vulnerable to a fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Remotes in general require batteries, remotes use transmitters of light or other means to control the technology they are remotes for. Television remotes send out LED transmissions and have a different pattern for each function and the television recognizes the pattern and responds accordingly. Without the battery, remotes would not be used and televisions would require manual transmissions of such functions by pushing the corresponding buttons on the television itself. Portable radios work in the similar fashion as remotes in that they use transmissions from satellites or others to bring in music, podcasts, and news stories through them. Both portable and car radios rely on the battery to allow their receptors to receive these transmissions and play the transmission through its speaker. The motorized wheelchair was a huge invention and would never had been thought of without the invention of the battery. It has improved the quality of life for people who are wheelchair bound for the rest of their lives, it gives them a sort of independence that would not be had with a mechanical wheelchair and makes them feel more confident with their situation. There are so many other technologies that were either improved or invented with the invention of the battery and there will be many more to come with the increasing research going into how to improve the batteries we already have.

The technology provided with the battery considers how, as a whole, we look for the simplicity and convenience of things. Batteries seem to be an easier way of going about doing things. For example, most people would say finding batteries, putting them into a flashlight and flipping the switch would be easier to do than going out finding a stick, wrapping it in oil soaked cloth and lighting it on fire for light. In the short-term sense, they are right, but in the long run lighting a stick on fire is more simplistic. All the materials and processing going into the creation of the battery, the cost and where to buy them quickly add up into a more complex way of getting a source of light (which may or may not last as long as a stick on fire, depending on the type or brand of battery you get), yet we think of them as the most simplistic approach. Human culture has trained itself to find the easier way out and though the battery seems easier, it is more complex.

This idea of reliance on the battery can also be lent to our reliance on time and why it is important that clocks and watches rely on batteries to make a standardized time for everyone. Human culture has made time a big priority. Everything must be on time and if anything is late there seems to be a conundrum in the human psyche. Time is important for many things; being one minute late in a surgery is the matter of life and death for a patient, one minute late to a bus stop and you have to wait for the next. If you really think about it, your time on earth is limited and making the most of it is a big influence on how many people live out their life. Most of what I stated doesn’t necessarily rely on a standardized time, but with transportation and the steadily increasing population, time is key to get people where they need to be when they need to be there.

Our near dependence on the battery is dangerous enough for the population, but the batteries themselves are surprisingly dangerous as well. Most people would not see the battery as being particularly dangerous, but there are dozens of case studies looking into car batteries exploding, pacemaker electrocution and children swallowing small button batteries leading to serious injury, other complications and even death. Batteries seem to be safe and easily replaceable, but we take for granted the safety and think, it won’t happen to us, it’s a relatively rare anomaly. This is the wrong way of thinking and is how most people go about their everyday lives. That’s exactly the case for several people that used trickle-chargers for their car battery before one random day they just exploded in their face, or the little girl who was creating a homework project when the batteries she was using blew up in her lap. People living with pacemakers deal with risks like these every day and constantly worry about not only their battery exploding, but also receiving the wrong electrical signal speeding up or slowing down their pacemakers.

Pacemakers are the life sources of many people who had fought with heart problems, such as heart disease, heart attack, etc., and are very much relied on in our technological world. These life sources, as it seems, rarely get looked at in a bad light, but there is actually a lot of danger in using these small simple technologies. When taking an EKG, it is in the patient’s best interest to make sure it is grounded because the risk of electrocution sky rockets when using the EKG (Merkel, 1968). The patient with a pacemaker lives, however, in a potentially hostile environment in which electrical signals from an ever-increasing variety of appliances may interfere with its function. They can get false electric stimulation through faults in other technologies that use electricity, which can be deadly if they are not recognized as false stimulation (O’Brien, 1982). The risk is very minimal according to the source, but it is a risk patients with pace makers deal with on a daily basis. These persistent risks and worries for patients with pacemakers have a psychological effect on them and cause even more risks and worries in the long run.

Adults are not the only ones at risk when it comes to batteries. Most children’s toys require batteries now-a-days. Many of these batteries are small button batteries, similar to watch battery and these pose a choking hazard for children under the age of 13. Therefore, most toys that require batteries use screws to make them not easily accessible, but in rare cases batteries are easily accessible and have caused serious injuries in young kids. Numbers of incidents have steadily increased in the last two decades, with 14 reported cases of death between 1995 and 2010 in this source. Most of the deaths were from button batteries from car remotes, and garage door openers and all under the age of 3 (“Injuries from Batteries among Children Aged <LT>13 Years – United States, 1995-2010.”, 2012), children of that age are constantly finding things on the ground and putting them in their mouth which is another topic of discussion, but valid to my research. A 12-year-old girl’s homework project used 3 AAA batteries and exploded in her lap causing lacerations and burns on her inner thighs. Her right thigh was affected more than her left and she had to get surgery to cover up the wound. They used skin from the back of her thigh to cover the affected areas (Görgülü, 2016). This just goes to show how dangerous batteries can be without proper knowledge on how to use them and the fears that human kind can face on a daily basis. It is instances like this that people rarely hear about and have little fear about because of how rare they are, but there are other instances similar to this happening lately with phone batteries and more people are weary of the technology surrounding the phone battery. As the weariness of phone batteries increases, the weariness of all technologies using batteries grows as well. There are tons of risks that come from batteries that most people brush off and don’t think about, but these are real risks that we should be worried about all the time.

Batteries pose a lot of risks (for the environment and for the people that use them), but also a ton of rewards (portability of technology and a longer and higher quality of life for people with heart defects). As our dependence on technology increases however, our reliance on the battery will continue to be a big part of our culture. Before this dependence on technology slows down, batteries must be improved for the safety of both the environment and the people who use the technology; without these advances, the bad impacts from the battery would outweigh the good. Batteries have exponentially helped our society make improvements in all aspects of life and will continue to enhance lives until some other power source can out beat the current versions we use every day. Tiny but mighty, the battery will have a lasting impact for generations to come.

Works Cited

Coler, Myron. “US3023259A – Flexible Battery.” Google Patents. Google. 27 Feb 1962. Web. 21 Mar. 2017. <https://patents.google.com/patent/US3023259A/en?q=battery&sort=old&gt;.

Daniel, Claus. “Materials and Processing for Lithium-ion Batteries.” TMS. 2017. Web. 4 Apr. 2017. <http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/jom/0809/daniel-0809.html&gt;.

Görgülü, Tahsin, Merve Torun, and Abdulkerim Olgun. “A Cause of Severe Thigh Injury: Battery Explosion.” Annals of Medicine and Surgery 5 (2016): 49–51. PMC. Web. 4 Apr. 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4708071/

“Injuries from Batteries among Children Aged <LT>13 Years – United States, 1995-2010.” MMWR: Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report, vol. 61, no. 34, 31 Aug. 2012, pp. 661-666. EBSCOhost. 4 Apr. 2017. www.systems.wsu.edu/scripts/wsuall.pl?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=104501731&site=ehost-live

Merkel, Rebecca and Margaret D. Sovie. “Electrocution Hazards with Transvenous Pacemaker Electrodes.” The American Journal of Nursing, vol. 68, no. 12, 1968, pp. 2560–2563., 4 Apr. 2017. www.jstor.org/stable/3453719.

O’Brien, Eoin. “Environmental Dangers For The Patient With A Pacemaker.” British Medical Journal (Clinical Research Edition), vol. 285, no. 6356, 1982, pp. 1677–1678., 4 Apr. 2017. www.jstor.org/stable/29508982.

Plous, Evan. “Production and Use of Biodegradable Materials for Incorporation in a Non-Toxic, Eco-Friendly Battery.” Transactions of the Kansas Academy of Science (1903-), vol. 110, no. 1/2, 2007, pp. 116–124.,4 Apr. 2017.  www.jstor.org/stable/20476301.

Xará, Susana, Manuel Fonseca Almeida, and Carlos Costa. “Life Cycle Assessment of Three Different Management Options for Spent Alkaline Batteries.” ScienceDirect. 25 June 2015. Web. 30 Mar. 2017. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wasman.2015.06.006

Advertisements

Tiny but Mighty(Panel Presentation Final)

When you get back to your dorm, apartment or house today look around and find something that needs batteries. It is likely that you will blow off this task and won’t truly look around, I can almost guarantee it actually. You’ll walk in looking at your cellphone, texting your friends or you’ll go check your laptop for notifications from social media or school instead. But wait, you will be doing the task won’t you? You probably don’t really think about it much, but we take batteries for granted every day. They are an “essential” part of our lives because without them technology like our cellphones would likely not exist. We rarely think of what are lives really would be like without batteries; no more cellphones, no more portable laptops, no more cars, planes or buses. Life would be more difficult. But would it really?

We are so reliant on the battery, believing it makes life easier. The battery has slowly been integrated into every aspect of our lives, from the medical field to leisure time, there is at least one item that requires the use of a battery. I found studies linked to items people use every day; cars, phones, pacemakers and toys. As far as pacemakers go, people would literally not be able to live without batteries and people think they would not be able to live without their phones and cars. This reliance drives home the idea that human culture looks for the easiest way to do things, but most of the time this “easy” way in the long run is actually more complex. People could easily walk or bike to and from their destination, but stepping on a gas pedal seems easier. It takes no resources or effort, other than physical ability, to walk from place to place. Resources are put into building a bicycle, like rubber for the tires and steel or titanium for the frame and physical ability to get the bike moving. Cars have so much more that go into them. Materials for the car itself, much like the bike, it needs rubber for tires and some sort of metallic frame, but there are also resources needed for the car battery, engine, radio, A/C, automatic windows, etc. Then there is the fuel. The expensive, environment-harming gas that goes into making the car move. Sure the car gets you farther and seems easier, but in the long run it is the more complex and more impactful method of transportation.

Gas is not the only thing affecting the environment when it comes to cars. Batteries from the car have a lasting impact on the environment as well. I found a lot of research going into how to make batteries more eco-friendly. One source tried to find materials that were biodegradable to help reduce both the carbon footprint from creating the battery, but also how less batteries would end up in landfills. Right now, the biggest impact is on land usage and how that effects both the environment and the people living in the area. The recycling system uses so much more fuel to break down the batteries, so finding a more fuel efficient way to recycle would benefit everyone. This is the case for the incarceration of the batteries as well, but there is also a lot to do with how to improve the water impact after the ash is disposed of. Landfills are left with the trace amounts of mercury seeping into the soil surrounding them effecting humans and wildlife. Using these biodegradable batteries would reduce all the risks included in each method.

There are other modifications being researched and patented for the battery every day to make them more worthwhile and easily adaptable for whatever the conditions they may be used in. There are flexible rechargeable batteries being created to be used in the artic that are worn under clothes to keep the battery ready for use and then put into radios when needed. These batteries are also pertinent and useful for objects that are oddly shaped or have limited space for batteries. The research is still ongoing and has a long way to come because, as with most research of other technologies, there is a lot of focus going into testing of the safety of batteries.

With most of the other research I found from sources, they were looking into how dangerous batteries can actually be. Most people would not see the battery as being particularly dangerous, but I found a lot of case studies looking into car batteries exploding, pacemaker electrocution and children swallowing small button batteries leading to serious injury, other complications and even death. With the help of these sources I want to be able to provide my reader with an understanding of what we take for granted every day. Batteries seem to be safe and easily replaceable, but we take for granted the safety and think, it won’t happen to us, it’s a relatively rare anomaly. This is the wrong way of thinking and is how most people go about their everyday lives. Thinking nothing bad could ever happen to them, why would it? That’s exactly the case for several people that used trickle-chargers for their car battery before one random day they just exploded in their face, or the little girl who was creating a homework project when the batteries she was using blew up in her lap. People living with pacemakers deal with risks like these every day and constantly worry about not only their battery exploding, but also receiving the wrong electrical signal speeding up or slowing down their pacemakers.

Our reliance on the battery plays a huge part in our reliance on technology and as further improvements are being done to technology, the need for further research and improvements will happen to the battery. Let’s just hope these improvements don’t outweigh our need for batteries compared to our want for newer technology and an “easier” life.

Panel Presentation (start)

I chose to do my research on the battery. I believe there are more sources with the history of it, research being done on it and how it has affected everyday living in today’s world. The biggest areas of research I wanted to hit were how drastically different life was before the battery and how quickly the population became adapted to the use of batteries. I really wanted to hit on how batteries are made, how they were invented, why they were invented, and how being invented has impacted the environment and our society by the end of my research and paper. My other options were intriguing (a fridge and light bulb), but it still boggles my mind that so much energy can be put into such a small piece of technology that can last for years without slowing down.  Batteries and the technology behind them have sparked an interest in me from an early age, seeing as I used them for everything from video games to RC cars growing up. I felt I was more focused and intrigued by the research I did with batteries than any other technology at this time.

Most of the research I found from sources looked into how dangerous batteries can actually be. Most people would not see the battery as being particularly dangerous, but I found a lot of case studies looking into car batteries exploding, pacemaker electrocution and children swallowing small button batteries leading to serious injury, other complications and even death. Other than those studies I found a lot of research going into how to make batteries more eco-friendly. One source tried to find materials that were biodegradable to help reduce both the carbon footprint from creating the battery, but also how less batteries would end up in landfills.

With the help of these sources I was able to provide my reader with an understanding of what we take for granted every day. Batteries seem to be safe and easily replaceable, but we take for granted the safety and think, it won’t happen to us, it’s a relatively rare anomaly. This is the wrong way of thinking and is how most people go about their everyday lives. Thinking nothing bad could ever happen to them, why would it? With these sources I was also able to see why we are so reliant on the battery. The battery has slowly been integrated into every aspect of our lives, from the medical field to leisure time, there is at least one item that requires the use of a battery. The case studies were linked to items people use everyday; cars, phones, pacemakers and toys. As far as pacemakers go, people would literally not be able to live without batteries and people think they would not be able to live without their phones and cars. This reliance drives home the idea that human culture looks for the easiest way to do things, but most of the time this “easy” way in the long run is actually more complex.

Humans could easily walk or bike to and from their destination, but stepping on a foot pedal seems easier. It takes no resources or effort, other than physical ability, to walk from place to place. Resources are put into building a bicycle, like rubber for the tires and steel or titanium for the frame and physical ability to get the bike moving. Cars have so much more that go into them. Materials for the car itself much like the bike, rubber for tires and some sort of metallic frame, but there are also resources needed for the car battery, engine, radio, A/C, automatic windows, etc. Then there is the fuel. The expensive, environment-harming gas that goes into making the car move. Sure the car gets you farther and seems easier, but in the long run it is the more complex and more impactful method of transportation.

Where am I in my Writing Capacity

I have learned a lot about writing in more of a college style through this class. In high school it was very structured and had an exact tone I had to follow and through this class I have found more often than not I get to choose what goes into my paper and what I want my reader to get out of my paper. I don’t have a direct rubric to follow when it comes to what I need the reader to get out of my writing. I feel this has allowed me to grow as a writer and has broadened my horizons when it comes to reading and writing in higher level courses. I have also learned how to more accurately cite sources, as well as knowing which sources to use and which ones I shouldn’t. I have found that getting help from my peers and having multiple people read my essays has led to higher grades than I had anticipated. As a writer I have been able to toy around with many different tones and style and always seem to find myself going back to a fairly casual tone with a hint of a more formal tone when it comes to things that I find very important. I seem to use a lot of what others say to make my writing more applicable to current times and to back it with a little more evidence than if I only use my own work. There is still plenty for me to work on. I need to work a little less with other people’s work and try and put their words as simply as possible while trying to interpret it to the best of my ability. I can explain why I decided to use this source over another or the purpose of using the source when I did to better improve my writing as well. I need to some how bring more imagination into my writing as well. For example, thinking through processes or human morals to connect my thoughts back to problems being faced in the present. I can use this to better my writing and give my readers thought provoking prompts so that my essay intrigues them past my conclusion, that they feel a sense of needing to know more so they go out and do their own research on the topic. Prior to this class, I had done very little research and only a few research papers. Most of the research would be done by the teacher in which they would find the sources that we would have to use and we would take those sources and use what we could to fit our essay’s tone or theme. I have learned through this class where to find primary sources as well as reliable secondary sources. I have also learned how to utilize the many services WSU has to offer their students. I would have never known that I could use search it to find sources and that the database or articles I find are free to me. I enjoy using the databases on search it a lot because they are easier and more convenient to use because I can do research where ever I am. With MASC I don’t have the opportunity to take the research material with me where ever I go, but I do like the old sources I am able to find and use to give a look back in time. If I were to start at the beginning of the semester again I would be sure to ask for more help in the early stages of writing rather than waiting to get the essay back to try and make good revisions.

Human Technology Interaction

Insight it gives us into the human culture and morals, ethics. What are we for and why?

My technology looks into how, as a whole, we look for the simplicity of things. Batteries seem to be an easier way of going about doing things. For example most people would say finding batteries, putting them into a flashlight and flipping the switch would be easier to do than going out finding a stick, wrapping it in oil soaked cloth and lighting it on fire for light. In the short term sense, they are right, but in the long run lighting a stick on fire is more simplistic. All the materials and processing going into the creation of the battery, the cost and where to buy them quickly add up into a more complex way of getting a source of light (which may or may not last as long as a stick on fire, depending on the type or brand of battery you get), yet we think of them as the most simplistic approach.

Consider the Battery

The battery- most used and reliable power source- looks very similar to what we would consider technology. Metallic, shiny, and loaded with patents, the battery is the epitome of technology.

Look closer at a battery (you can take it out of your phone because who doesn’t have one these days). Does it have a matte or metallic finish? Is there a positive and negative end or are they on the same end? Is it warm or cold? Small and thin or big and thick? Maybe it’s circular in shape to minimize space taken up or maybe rectangular to give as much power as possible. Countless decisions- economical and environmental as well as those applying to electrical engineering- have gone into making this battery. These decisions affect how well your device will be powered. We rarely give thanks to the battery for all the things it has powered. We don’t thank the battery for getting us from Seattle to Spokane, finding us directions to the nearest restaurant, or lighting our way in a dark forest.

The battery doesn’t look that sophisticated, just a piece of metal with a bump or two on either end, but it has made the population more reliant on technology. Batteries are made of metal, steel or nickel in most cases, which makes them good conductors of electricity- the fundamental function of the battery. Batteries have become a fundamental technology deeply relied on in our culture. Adopted because of a particular need and to solve power problems, batteries were invented and proposed into the culture. You could use plug-ins in just the same way as a battery, but in this way the technology is still portable for the busy, always-on-the-go professions in the technological era we find ourselves in today. It took countless inventions, some with patents and others without to find the right battery for every task, technology, and problem being faced and there are still many more inventions to come.

Writing about the battery in this way has made it a tad easier to develop and get the reader thinking about how reliant we are on the battery and how easily ingrained it is in our modern lifestyles. It is a nice way to introduce the technology in a way that makes the reader intrigued to find out why and how it so quickly it has become ingrained in our society. It has also given me a source of style and tone I can have with my reader to make sure they stay intrigued throughout the entirety of my paper. It gives a new outlook on how writing and style can be put together to create a new type of narrative nonfiction that connects the reader to the real world and imagination all at once.

Prompts for Battery Research April 6

Describe the sensory experience of your technology.

Depending on the time you feel the battery it can be a cold metallic dense object, after being used it is warm to the touch and lighter, as if the power has been swept away from the object. Taste is very unlikely to happen, but with specific batteries, like a 9 volt, placing the battery on your tongue sends a small vibration through your tongue and down your teeth and leaves a metallic aftertaste. Working hard the battery gives small sounds, small buzzing letting you know it is working and when it is not working, dead silence. Small but mighty the battery holds plenty of power. You would not guess this from its size or shape, but it can work for longer than 20 hours.

Physical capacities someone must have to use your tech.

There are no specific capabilities someone must have to work with a battery. The only real problems that someone would run into would be if they were blind and not knowing which way to put the battery. We have eliminated this hassle with a spring in the object needing the battery on the negative side and a bump on the positive side of the battery itself. Car batteries would provide a similar problem and that would require the help of someone else to be sure the battery is hooked up the right way, but if there is someone who is blind worrying about their car, there are other problems to be worried about. Batteries are small enough and light enough that even people with physical disabilities or no muscle mass could still use them.

What is your technology’s association with gender?

Batteries are usually linked to aspects of the male gender. Tools, remote control cars, phones, computers all rely on the power of the battery and all are linked to men. There has not been a time that I have seen women associated with tools like a hand drill or jigsaw, both of which require specialized batteries to work. Remote control cars are for boys because what girl wants to race cars? Phone and computer ads always have businessmen using them and rarely do we see women in the same way with these battery-reliant technologies.

Describing that is accurate, but not really what we are used to thinking.

Small device with the ability to project light, compute calculations, drive a car, type a story, tell time. Number one cause of car accidents, cyberbullying, and etc.

Technology non-usable across the board. What happens?

Waking up in a world with no batteries means walking to school or riding a bike, no phones, no laptops, no toys for the little ones. Flashlights would be replaced with oil lanterns, clocks would rely on gravity, smoke alarms would not wake us up in case of an emergency. Music would have to be played live, no more ipods or radio.

What would happen if it became too involved?

Reliance on the battery is already key to a lot of the concepts in modern life as we know it. Even more reliance would maybe lead to no more plug-ins for electricity and making everything portable. Completely portable stoves, refrigerators, televisions, washing machines, video games.

Alternate designs, better or worse than ones now?

Foldable, waterproof batteries would be better for some technology. They would help in applications of technology in water. Exploring the oceans would be made more possible with this idea because there would be less damage done to the inner workings of the battery to cause a short in the system and it allows for the tech to be more flexible and move into tighter spaces for readings. For modern uses the tech would just be a more expensive approach to the batteries we already have, so less people would buy into the idea.

People have this attitude about batteries, how should they look at it though?

Most people have a genuine love for batteries and don’t think twice on what could be potentially dangerous. I think they should look at how destructive the power of the battery can be. The battery gives power to teenagers in the palm of their hand to be cyberbullies, which has lead to a rapidly increasing number of deaths by suicide. Batteries have the potential to explode when improperly charged. Car battery explosions are rare, but are extremely fatal and phone battery explosions are on the rise to fame in many news articles. If enough batteries are thrown away there is a potential to leak high levels of mercury into groundwater and its surroundings.

Locate the most fascinating info, the hook, about your technology.

  • The first battery
  • How they work
  • Accidents from batteries

Tone paper should take, fun and light, deep thought, laughter?

I think the tone should be light at first to explain the tech and then it should grow into a deeper darker tone when it comes to explaining how it often gets overlooked as such a fundamental way of life now and how that has affected our ever-growing reliance on overall technology.

Feeling you want readers to have by the end

I want my reader to realize how deeply reliant we are on technology as a whole and how batteries are changing everyday life. I want them to feel surprised with some of the information I give and make them question why they have overlooked batteries up until this point.

One idea that is really important that you want your reader to walk away with

Think of how important it is that we have batteries and how far we have come with them. I want them to be grateful to have them.

Technology in Practice

Life was very different before the invention of batteries. Before batteries people relied on strength to start up their cars by cranking up the engine starter. Hand cranks relied on strength and smarts of the driver at hand. The driver had to know exact hand position, exact rotation and exact strength to start their engine, and now with just a twist of a key, or push of a button in some cases, the car starts. Lamps relied on dangerous flammable fuel and flames. Oil was set on fire and placed in jars to keep the light going when it got dark, this was a cause of many house fires when these jars were knocked over. Slowly these jars got better and eventually electricity was invented allowing for lighting to be completely electric and no longer relying on the dangerous fuel. This made them no longer portable, but flashlights were created with the help of batteries and are now being produced on a large scale to continue to help with low-light situations.  Clocks were very inaccurate relying on gravity to swing their pendulums exactly the same way every second. If gravity ever changed, or the clock was bumped the time would be off. With batteries there are no opportunities for timing to be off because of bumping or gravity. There is an opportunity for timing to be off when the battery dies, but with the lifespan of the battery, it is more likely to need a new watch before the battery ran out.

With the invention of the battery technology like cellphones, laptops, cameras and so much more have been created. Laptops rely on batteries for all their functions and can be plugged in to work as well, but are meant to be portable which is why they rely on a battery and not on plug-ins alone. Digital cameras are powered by batteries in order to edit the photo, post the photo to social media, and share with others. Other cameras prior to digital cameras used light exposure to create the picture, but this makes them not able to be shared or edited. Alarms, such as fire or carbon monoxide, rely on the battery and warn owners if there are any dangers with in the house. With the reliability on batteries, alarms will still work if the power goes out in the house unexpectedly and will still protect homeowners from being completely vulnerable to fire or carbon monoxide poisoning. Remotes in general require batteries, remotes use transmitters of light or other means to control the technology they are remotes for. Television remotes send out LED transmissions and have a different pattern for each function and the television recognizes the pattern and responds accordingly. Without the battery, remotes would not be used and televisions would require manual transmissions of such functions by pushing the corresponding buttons on the television itself. Portable radios work in the similar fashion as remotes in that they use transmissions from satellites or others to bring in music, podcasts, and news stories through them. Both portable and car radios rely on the battery to allow their receptors to receive these transmissions and play the transmission through its speaker. There are so many other technologies that were either improved or invented with the invention of the battery and there will be many more to come with the increasing research going into how to improve the batteries we already have.

Injuries from batteries among children aged 13 years

http://www.systems.wsu.edu/scripts/wsuall.pl?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ccm&AN=104501731&site=ehost-live

Most children’s toys require batteries now-a-days. Many of these batteries are small button batteries, similar to watch battery and these pose a choking hazard for children under the age of 13. This is why most toys that require batteries use screws to make them not easily accessible, but in rare cases batteries are easily accessible and have caused serious injuries in young kids. Numbers of incidents have steadily increased in the last two decades, with 14 reported cases of death between 1995 and 2010 in this source. Most of the deaths were from button batteries from car remotes, and garage door openers and all under the age of 3, children of that age are constantly finding things on the ground and putting them in their mouth which is another topic of discussion, but valid to my research. Through this source I want my reader to understand the risks of using batteries among children and how the use of the batteries should be monitored at all times by the parent of said children. There are tons of risks that come from batteries that most people brush off and don’t think about and I want my reader to understand that these are real risks that we should be worried about all the time.

Production and Use of Biodegradable Materials for Incorporation in a Non-Toxic, Eco-Friendly Battery

http://www.jstor.org/stable/20476301

Battery consumption has been increasing very rapidly over the last few decades, and may pose a threat to the environment depending on the materials used during its production. This source tested a way in which batteries can be produced to be biodegradable. Biodegradable plastic outer shell, lemon juice acid as the electrolyte system, and paper made from cellulose to split the system into anode and cathode all went into making the battery eco-friendly and biodegradable. This source show other ways of creating batteries to reduce the carbon footprint we leave behind after every generation. It shows that there is still a lot of research going into improvements in material used as well as creating a safer battery for every day uses that has a smaller risk of exploding or causing other damage. My reader can feel imaginative when reading about this battery and maybe try and think up their own replacement battery to reduce the carbon footprint and increase safety.