In the popular press, green covers everything from recycling newspapers to using public transport. It allows multinational companies to market ‘green’ groceries, politicians to adopt ‘green tickets’ and vehicle manufacturers to claim ‘green’ emission levels with equal ease.

But what of battery power? Both pro audio (particularly live and theatre work) and MI are voracious consumers of rechargable batteries... can they be green?

In ‘green’ land, the electric car has hogged the news, with stories such as that of Toshiba’s Super Charge ion Battery (SCiB) technology ‘stunning the world’ on word of its launch in 2007, being regarded as the ‘Holy Grail in Lithium battery technology’ for its ability to recharge up to 90 per cent of its energy in five minutes, minimal capacity loss and 10-year lifespan. And the secret of Chinese company BYD’s E6 electric car that appeared at the 2009 Shanghai Motor Show is its move from lithium ion battery technology (which is expensive, rare and not particularly green) to one based on cheap and plentiful ferrous ion.

Clearly, the race to elevate battery technology (its capacity, efficiency, cost, weight…) is on and prompting the kind of comments that betray its genuine importance. Toshiba claims that its SciB will be worth ¥100bn by 2015, while a Toyota tech reportedly referred to the science behind Chevvy’s Volt electric car as ‘vaporware’, and that the project relies on battery technology advancing ahead of the car’s development.

Away from the automotive field, laptop PC and mobile phone manufacturers are also wrestling with consumers’ expectations of battery life and recharge times – as a mix of practicality and green considerations. Even Microsoft is in on the act, with a new battery technology that ‘will be a boon to those easily flustered by the process of trying to correctly insert power cells into electronic devices such as digital cameras, tape recorders, and television remotes’. InstaLoad technology, as it is called, ‘allows users to easily install a battery without regard to positive and negativity polarity’. Microsoft says that it has Duracell’s endorsement and that InstaLoad versions of CR123, AA, AAA, C and D batteries are in the pipeline.

And as with mobile phones, laptop computers and electric cars, battery life is a critical consideration in many areas of pro audio and A/V – as anyone who has ventured backstage at a large-scale stage production or behind the scenes at a television studio knows.

This has set the scene very neatly for AKG and the battery technology used in its wireless mic systems. ‘Digital wireless technology has traditionally used an excessive amount of energy in an inefficient manner,’ said Joseph Wagoner, AKG Product Manager for Wireless, Tour, and Installed Sound, in a recent press release. ‘That’s not the case with our systems. Where other systems will get three or four hours on a fully charged battery, AKG’s will get nearly twice as much. Our battery power technology represents the smartest and most advanced charging methods available for microphone and wireless microphone systems.’

The release very reasonably points out that the dependability and overall cost of ownership of any wireless microphone system is closely tied to its battery usage, and claiming ‘more intelligent and efficient charging of batteries for better performance, extended life cycles and greater cost savings’ for users of its systems, which employ Pulse Wave Technology to improve charging and life cycles. ‘AKG’s battery power technology provides two main benefits to our customers,’ Wagoner insists. ‘One is the benefit to the environment that comes with using less batteries and producing less waste, the other is the saving that results from the wireless system paying for itself over time.’

The message here is clear – green is good. It’s good for the planet, it’s good for your business and it’s good for marketing.

But there’s more, because our hunger for power and our prolific use of it mean that battery technology has assumed an importance far beyond general understanding. It touches so many aspects of our personal and professional lives that it has become all-pervasive. And it will necessarily be an important part of our efforts to address global warming.

See also:
Julie's Bicycle Better Batteries campaign

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