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Glass battery: All gain, no pane

Glass battery: All gain, no pane

As far as inventions go, a glass battery sounds about as promising as a concrete basketball or an oatmeal telephone. But Roy Baldwin claims that his unique power source could someday energize everything from mobile phones to automobiles.

As far as inventions go, a glass battery sounds about as promising as a concrete basketball or an oatmeal telephone. But Roy Baldwin claims that his unique power source could someday energize everything from mobile phones to automobiles. Baldwin's battery is based on Dynaglass, an inorganic polymer that's allegedly stronger than steel, yet flexible enough to wrap food. Baldwin, a retired mechanical engineer, says Dynaglass was developed in the mid-1990s, but some of the technology is based on research by the Soviet military and space programs. He learned about the material while helping a friend ship medical supplies to Russia. "Later on, we discovered that the material could be used to store energy," says Baldwin, who then formed a company Columbus, Ohio-based Dynelec to explore the technology's potential.

Baldwin boasts that Dynaglass is a remarkable power source. A Dynaglass battery, he says, is infinitely rechargeable and might be able to generate up to 30 times more energy than a lead-acid battery of comparable size and weight. The device, which can be produced in a wide range of sizes, also contains no acids or other dangerous chemicals, making it pollution free. "It just reacts like glass," Baldwin says. But since Dynaglass isn't brittle like ordinary glass, it's durable and won't shatter when dropped.

While a working Dynaglass battery would be warmly received by mobile device manufacturers and users, Keith Keefer, a scientist based in Richland, Wash., is skeptical that Baldwin's technology is all that it's purported to be. He notes that several inventors have created similar devices, and that none of the devices has lived up to its promise. "No one has ever really made it work," he says.

Yet Baldwin is looking to interest manufacturers in his technology. "A glass producer could use this to enter the energy industry at practically no additional cost," he says.

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