The world of electricity is often overlooked in favor of its more glamorous cousin – the digital world. And yet, all of the technological infrastructure upon which the digital world is built is, of course, electrical. The power that is generated and fed into computer servers, quantum computers, and electric vehicles all traces back to an electrical source. In this article, we’ll look at electrical breakthroughs that might change the digital world – and therefore the whole world – as we head towards 2021.
Heating and Cooling
As you’ll know, the single biggest carbon impact of the world of computers and the internet is in fan technology. From the laptops and computers that we’re used to using at work and at home through to the huge data centers dotted across the world, cooling computers consumes electricity. And computers and servers get hot easily, which means that there is no choice but to artificially cool them.
The hope, for 2021, is that current research in the effectiveness of different cooling mechanisms might have an impact on the way in which we channel electricity into the computerized world. For instance, experiments with servers in vacuums, or fans running on near-perpetual energy, look particularly promising. Either way, this is a space to keep an eye on as developments increase.
The breakthrough a handful of years ago in the provision of lithium-ion batteries won the battery’s inventor the Nobel Prize, and gave hundreds of millions of people a new way to store their electricity safely and securely. Now, of course, this is a widespread technology – used by many different industries and heralded as a new dawn in our use of electricity.
While much of the focus on batteries tends to look at the electric vehicle market, comparatively little attention is paid to the kind of bespoke range of battery tabs that have been developed for smaller appliances and electrical devices. These are equally elegant and powerful, and there’s clearly more to come from this space as scientists improve their understanding of optimized lithium-ion batteries.
The near-field changing craze that was predicted a couple of years ago has yet to materialize, and most people prefer to simply carry around a battery pack from which to charge their devices when they’re on the move. Even in the home, the wireless charger has barely taken off – partly because consumers have forged such a strong connection in their minds between plugs, wires, and charging.
Whether or not 2021 will be the year of the near-field changing breakthrough is yet to be seen – but the technology has clearly been through a proof of concept in recent years. It’ll just take a major electrical firm to invest heavily in the research and the marketing the solution to get such a product into the mainstream for all consumers to enjoy. Watch this space to see whether wireless charging will develop further next year.
Next year, expect plenty of advances in the electrical and digital world – including the three outlined above.