Laptop Batteries: Safer, 30% More Energy?

Within the near future, a new development in Lithium-Ion batteries could improve battery life for laptops, or it could create a situation where batteries are smaller. The researchers are talking about a 30% increase in energy, not to mention safer, and longer-lasting.

When you look at Intel’s efforts to reduce power consumption (and to be fair, AMD and VIA), as well as the increase in backlit-LED displays, in theory, laptop/notebook and UMPC manufacturers could go one of two ways: Devices similar to some of the designs we now see, but with a 30% (or more depending on CPU/chipset) increase in battery life. Alternatively, they could design devices quite a bit smaller or thinner, but with the same battery life we see these days (say reduce the battery size by 30%.

Conventional lithium-ion batteries in laptops and cell phones quickly lose their ability to store energy and can catch fire if they’re overcharged or damaged. Now researchers at Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, IL, have developed composite battery materials that can make such batteries both safer and longer lived, while increasing their capacity to store energy by 30 percent.

Last month, the researchers took a significant step toward commercializing the technology by licensing it to a major materials supply company, Toda Kogyo, based in Japan. The company has the capacity to make the materials for about 30 million laptop batteries a year, says Gary Henriksen, who manages electrochemical storage research at Argonne.

Once these batteries are available (and it’s possible they’ll be retrofitted to some of the more popular laptops/UMPCs currently out), it should have a pretty big impact on the smaller devices and laptops.