Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Superior Anode For Lithium-Ion Batteries Developed

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the power-up dept.

Power 77

RogerRoast writes "The anode is a critical component for storing energy in lithium-ion batteries. The Berkeley Lab (D.O.E) has designed a new kind of anode that can absorb eight times the lithium of current designs, and has maintained its greatly increased energy capacity after over a year of testing and many hundreds of charge-discharge cycles. According to the research published in Advanced Materials they used a tailored polymer that conducts electricity and binds closely to lithium-storing silicon particles, even as they expand to more than three times their volume during charging and then shrink again during discharge."

cancel ×

77 comments

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Subscription access only... (2)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508286)

I couldn't see the main article because it requires subscription but how much extra capacity does this actually translate into? (Assuming it works...)

Re:Subscription access only... (3, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508354)

Energy capacity (assuming constant voltage) is linear with stored charge.. stored charge is linear with quantity of active species, which is going up by a factor of 8, so I'd guess about 8 times.

Voltage is never constant under high discharge rates... lead acid "car" batteries are famous for covering their plates temporarily with gas (h2) and all batteries dump some fraction of their capacity into their internal resistance. For a good example try pulling 10 amps out of a giant deep cycle marine battery, then outta a nicad C size cell, then outta a pre-alkaline, pre-heavy duty zinc C size cell (think radio shack battery of the month club red battery).

expand to more than three times their volume during charging and then shrink again during discharge

Well, that's fairly terrifying word choice to anyone who did extreme stuff with prior battery techs. Expanding lead acid cell means the vent is clogged and you're about to get a large dose of flammable H2, corrosive electrolyte, and splintering plastic. Expanding lithium means its about to go kaboom. "Expand" is not a cool choice of words around battery people. Call it "volumetrically challenged" or something.

Re:Subscription access only... (2)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508478)

What fraction of the entire cell is the anode, and thus how much 'sometimes unused' space has to be left for this anode when fully turgid, and thus by what fraction does this knock down Wh/l energy density, do you think?

Anyhow, it seems as if it might be quickly commercialisable and just needs a matching top-notch cathode! B^>

Rgds

Damon

Re:Subscription access only... (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508492)

I'd guess about 8 times.

If that's true, and even if it only works out to six times in production then it almost solves the car battery problem. We can get about 100 miles with existing batteries and 600 miles is about as far as a normal person would want to drive in a day (ie. average 60mph for ten hours).

(I say "almost" because of the following posts...)

Re:Subscription access only... (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508656)

Of course, it'll only cost 6-8 times more than existing technology...

Re:Subscription access only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37508926)

But with batteries being so much of the car's weight a 1/6th size battery with 100 miles worth of charge under the old weight will still go for a noticeable amount longer.

Re:Subscription access only... (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508948)

That might even be worth it (per kWh) for some apps, such as smart phones. B^>

Unless it's 6x--8x per l or kg in which case that's be the same price per kWh as the current lot (but a lot smaller and longer-lasting) and would be *wonderful*! I could run my house for a year on a small shed's worth!

Rgds

Damon

Re:Subscription access only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37509356)

I'll take 8 time the cost for 8 times the power. A brand new generic battery for my Evo 4g costs about 5 bucks on ebay and lasts 1 full day. I'll gladly pay $40 for a battery that lasts 8 days. Hybrid car batteries themselves aren't necessarily the most expensive part, the charging system to keep them from blowing up and monitoring systems to keep them from overheating I'm sure add a lot of overhead.

Re:Subscription access only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37509058)

No, it solves *half* of the car battery problem. It doesn't address the long charge times, although for a 600-mile range I can see most people accepting an hour or two of charge time.

Re:Subscription access only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37511412)

I can see people buying a spare battery, to charge one while driving with the other.

Of course, it depends how easy car manufacturers make it to swap out.

Re:Subscription access only... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 2 years ago | (#37513952)

No, it solves *half* of the car battery problem. It doesn't address the long charge times,

People sleep...

Re:Subscription access only... (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37508542)

It's not the Lithium which is expanding. The silicon which stores the lithium expands and breaks into bits and pieces. That's the challenge in using Si as a Grahpite substitute in LIB.

Re:Subscription access only... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37508558)

"Expand" is not a cool choice of words around battery people. Call it "volumetrically challenged" or something.

In lithium-ion batteries, that's exactly what happens though. As lithium fills up the active material, there is a volume expansion. No gases are produced in li-ion batteries unless the electrolyte heats up, the problem with volume expansion is that it can form cracks in the material and reduce its mechanical and electrochemical integrity which usually results in high capacity fade with time (I guess these guys have figured it out though).

Re:Subscription access only... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37509572)

Something interesting with my AW LiMN IMR 14500 cells... I use them in a small UltraFire flashing.. takes one.

When it's fully charged, it fits the flashlight perfectly. No rattle, perfect fit. I can always tell when it's time to charge it because by the time it starts to rattle around inside the housing it's always at around 3.6-3.5v, perfect recharge point for a LiMN cell.

Re:Subscription access only... (1)

colinrichardday (768814) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508798)

Call it "volumetrically challenged" or something.

Wouldn't it be "volumetrically gifted"?

Re:Subscription access only... (3, Funny)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508866)

Hmm, I see a whole new slew of SPAM: "Need your anode volumetrically gifted? Feeling that your capacity is down or resistance to your action is going up, unlike you? Our new CiaLIaSi is for you!"

Rgds

Damon

Re:Subscription access only... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37508358)

I got there fine.

6 digit UID and you are making excuses for Not RTF?! Anyway, this is Slashdot. Everyone assumes you didn't read the article - there's no reason to make an excuse as to why you didn't.

Geeze!

Re:Subscription access only... (1)

JavaBear (9872) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508426)

Don't worry I tend to disregard AC posts that does nothing but troll others anyway...

Coward (1)

chris_lukehart (2470024) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508522)

I got to agree with you coward!

Re:Subscription access only... (1)

WalksOnDirt (704461) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508498)

I couldn't see the main article because it requires subscription but how much extra capacity does this actually translate into?

That's a good question that I've never found an answer to. It depends, of course, on how much of the battery is the anode.

It's important to remember all the silicon anode results we've heard about in the past. Some of these are moving forward without this, so the gain will be even less that you would at first think. However, I think this could have better longevity - the battery would last more cycles.

Re:Subscription access only... (3, Informative)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508780)

Although you can't get to the paywalled article, there is a barely legible chart [wiley.com] , which shows the specific capacity, in mAh/g, to be ~2200. Current Li-Ion batteries, which use a graphite based anode [wikipedia.org] , have a specific capacity of ~350 mAh/g [pnl.gov] . So 2200/350= ~6 times the capacity.

Now the claim of sony vaio of 12 hour backup.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37508304)

Seems like, now the claim of sony vaio of 12 hour battery backup can be challenged. - http://www.techgineering.org/2011/09/01/2013/sony15-5-vaio-s-laptop-claims-12-hour-battery-life/ .

i wish, my toshiba laptop had the same technology.

dupe (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37508310)

We saw this information already.

Re:dupe (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508506)

Must be a reconfiguration of the Matrix.

Jaded (2)

drobety (2429764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508312)

There has been many nice headlines over the months (years) about such and such new advances in battery technology. Surely it's nice, but now I am becoming jaded with such articles. Here is what I want now: "New AAA batteries lasting twice as long as those currently sold reach the market // blah blah ... as measured by independent testing ... blah blah"

Conceited? (2)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508384)

Maybe *you* only want to know about things once they are no longer R&D and are just lumpen consumer goods available in your local B&M.

Others may like to know about research, both blue-sky and nearer commercialisation.

The fact is that batteries *have* improved vastly over recent time, but not possibly by quanta and in formats that excite you.

I'm rather impressed by the LiFePO4 battery that I have rigged up alongside my 2kWh of SLA gel to reduce cycling of the latter, at several times the energy density by volume and weight (and not that expensive). But I went and haggled and bought it straight off a vendor's R&D bench armed with the knowledge that it wasn't likely to turn up in consumer gear in that form, at least not for a year or two.

Rgds

Damon

Re:Conceited? (-1, Offtopic)

drobety (2429764) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508482)

I'm subscribed and read science magazines/books, and the topics/articles I enjoy the most are the ones at the edge of human knowledge, those unlikely to have any commercial values. Have you been drinking grapefruit juice [newscientist.com] again?

Re:Conceited? (2)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508510)

I do read NS, as it happens. I even write vaguely technical stuff for money sometimes.

But spending your effort to whinge about /.'s climate being the wrong shade of purple in the latter part of an autumnal afternoon in your backyard is just a waste of everyone's effort. Just don't read TFA/TFS/TFC and spare us your peccadilloes, please.

Rgds

Damon

Re:Conceited? (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508782)

What I never tend to see is a simple site with various graphs charting this progress (of market available products). Whether it's the cost/GB of SSD storage, highest temperature found for a superconductor, or indeed the joules (or watts) per litre (or mass) of battery. I'd just love to see the curves, and see how they grow over the years.

Re:Conceited? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37510444)

I was shocked (figuratively, not literally) last week by battery tech. Basically, I'd been reading that NiMH rechargeables have really improved over the last few years. This reminded me that I have a few devices that came with rechargeable batteries built in (and you plug a charger right into it), and those batteries have since gone to crap and not been touched for years.

So I pulled out my old minidisc player I got in 2000 and popped out its AA battery. NiMH. 1.2 volts, same as the new stuff. 700mAh capacity. Performance was noticeably degraded by the end of the first year of owning it, in which I recharged it less than once per day. NiMH batteries in another device from about 2001 were slightly worse at 600mAh. Those too had noticeably poor performance after a year, and I used them less than the minidisc player.

The good new NiMH batteries? 1.2 volts... 1900mAh for the dirt cheap ones. Good for 1500 charge cycles. Price works out to $2/battery (Compared to normal single-use alkaline batteries, which are 1.5v and maybe as high as ~3000mAh for as low as $0.50/battery in bulk.) So I ordered some, for some of the numerous power-hungry little gadgets I have lying around. They'll pay for themselves pretty quick.

But yeah, back to the point: for one type of rechargeable battery: capacity has nearly tripled in ten years, along with other performance benefits.

Re:Conceited? (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37512706)

Getting like to compare with like is astonishingly difficult post hoc in my experience, but I did it many many years for a defence company and was able to project commodity CPU performance forward about a decade (it turned out) across families and within a single family (x86) reasonably well.

Probably few journalists have the time to embark on building such curves from scratch, though I agree that they are interesting.

Maybe do some yourself and stick them in Wikipedia?

Rgds

Damon

Re:Conceited? (1)

Spoke (6112) | more than 2 years ago | (#37519016)

I'm rather impressed by the LiFePO4 battery that I have rigged up alongside my 2kWh of SLA gel to reduce cycling of the latter, at several times the energy density by volume and weight (and not that expensive).

That sounds like a cool project - got any details of it on a website somewhere?

But I went and haggled and bought it straight off a vendor's R&D bench armed with the knowledge that it wasn't likely to turn up in consumer gear in that form, at least not for a year or two.

I didn't think it was that hard to find LiFePO4 batteries these days online... What specifications/format were you looking for in a battery?

Re:Conceited? (1)

DamonHD (794830) | more than 2 years ago | (#37520510)

Hi,

Here's the project: http://www.earth.org.uk/LiFePO4-battery-testing-with-solar-PV-off-grid-system.html [earth.org.uk]

I went to see the vendor at its office because it had some interesting stuff on sale, and discussing what they were working on stumbled upon this LiFePO4 battery. It's prismatic (so compact) and has a BMS built in, suitable to accept nominal 12V solar PV directly at its inputs. (It has 4 wires; PV in and nominal 12V out, though a common +ve rather than -ve which is a slight nuisance.) BMS, ie solar charging of Li, was my big worry at the time.

Rgds

Damon

Re:Jaded (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37508436)

Not gonna happen any time soon. The energy density (per unit volume) of alkaline long-life cells is about 50% higher than any other viable technology we have available. It seems unlikely anything is going to revolutionise this technology. Almost all current research is targeted at improving lithium cells, which are the next best (lower density than NiMH, but that technology has severe limitations on longevity that are not going to go away). Lithium is better in terms of density per mass, but what it absolutely cannot give you is a longer-lasting battery in the same physical format as an alkaline cell.

What we might hopefully see in the near future is a lightweight battery that can survive many thousands of charge cycles (LiFePO4 is the best in this respect with reasonable energy density, but it still lacks in density compared to Li-ion technologies, so there is potential to improve these to match and get a better battery). Unfortunately, they're still talking in terms of hundreds of cycles here.

To make true electric vehicles a reality (which is IMO the most important target of battery research right now) what we need is a battery that will last >2000 cycles and carries >200Wh/kg. The technology here looks like it might more than exceed these energy density requirements[1] but with only a 650 cycle lifetime it would probably be too expensive for day-to-day use. We might see something that meets these targets in the future, but it isn't here yet.

[1]: the abstract of the paper doesn't mention cell voltage and describes density in terms of milliamp-hours, which leaves you having to guess about plausible voltages, but we could be looking at 400Wh/kg or more here, so similar to Li-S batteries but without the very low lifespan associated with them.

Re:Jaded (1)

Mprx (82435) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508940)

A good modern low self-discharge NiHM (eg. 2nd generation Eneloop) can survive more charge cycles than lithium ion, and has better self-discharge performance. Capacity is a bit worse than traditional NiMH, but it's still a lot better than NiCd. It would probably be possible to build a NiMH that meets your specifications for electric vehicles.

Re:Jaded (1)

dr2chase (653338) | more than 2 years ago | (#37509100)

I would suggest that smaller and lighter vehicles are a more sensible path to pursue. Smaller cars means cheaper batteries, which means that current technologies are affordable after all.

Other thing I find interesting, and unclear from the article, is whether the capacity of the battery is proportional to the lithium in the battery, regardless of anode technology. That means that the use of these batteries would spike demand for lithium both by increasing the popularity of e-cars and by putting more lithium in each of the more numerous e-cars. Again, smaller-cars-better.

Cars - not the only use for batteries. (1)

Firethorn (177587) | more than 2 years ago | (#37511518)

I would suggest that smaller and lighter vehicles are a more sensible path to pursue. Smaller cars means cheaper batteries, which means that current technologies are affordable after all.

While there's still quite a bit of room for improvement in weight savings, consider that developing a battery that has higher energy density will allow you to put fewer pounds of battery into an EV, of whatever design.

Car makers would love to make their vehicles lighter for no additional cost. Right now steel is cheaper than carbon fiber. You need a car of at least a certain weight to meet the safety requirements. As long as batteries remain weighty, you have to add even more weight in structural support to carry them. 200 miles worth of batteries weighs more than 2x100 miles worth of batteries - you have to burn more power pushing the extra weight.

Another consideration entirely would be that while EVs are indeed the popular topic when it comes to batteries, I'd love to have a battery for my smart phone that will a day of heavy usage. And a lifespan of a year or two of charging is sufficient for most cell phones.

This part here is utterly false: (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37509284)

(lower density than NiMH, but that technology has severe limitations on longevity that are not going to go away)

This isn't wrong, it's ridiculously wrong. NiMH batteries are used in the Toyota Prius, where almost all of them last for thousands of charge/discharge cycles. The *prototype* of all NiMH batteries lasted 500 c/d cycles and most modern NiMHs last on the order of 4000 cycles or more:

Interest grew in the 1970s with the commercialisation of the Nickel hydrogen battery for satellite applications. Hydride technology promised an alternative much less bulky way to store the hydrogen. Research carried out by Philips Laboratories and France's CNRS developed new high-energy hybrid alloys incorporating rare earth metals for the negative electrode. However, these suffered from the instability of the alloys in alkaline electrolyte and consequently insufficient cycle life. In 1987, Willems and Buschow demonstrated a successful battery based on this approach (using a mixture of La0.8Nd0.2Ni2.5Co2.4Si0.1) which kept 84% of its charge capacity after 4000 charge-discharge cycles. More economically viable alloys using mischmetal instead of lanthanum were soon developed and modern NiMH cells are based on this design.[9]

For comparison, lithium-ion batteries are often only rated for something like 200 c/d cycles, with the best commercial-grade lithium-ion batteries not rated for longer than 1000 c/d cycles.

Re:This part here is utterly false: (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37511666)

For comparison, lithium-ion batteries are often only rated for something like 200 c/d cycles, with the best commercial-grade lithium-ion batteries not rated for longer than 1000 c/d cycles.

That's only true if you consider LiFePO4 different from lithium ion. Some of them have demonstrated 5000 cycles. Unfortunately they are more expensive and have about half the energy density of conventional Li-Ion cells. If they come down in price , or if their capacity can be boosted without making them more expensive, then they will be very real candidates for a practical EV.

Re:This part here is utterly false: (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | more than 2 years ago | (#37519980)

Look into the lithium-ion batteries offered by ABSL, a European satellite battery company. They aren't really "commercial" grade as they are designed to be used on spacecraft, but they can survive upwards of 10,000 cycles given appropriate depth of discharge constraints. They are also significantly lighter than nickel-hydrogen packs.

Re:Jaded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37511420)

Not gonna happen any time soon. The energy density (per unit volume) of alkaline long-life cells is about 50% higher than any other viable technology we have available.

To pile on how wrong you are, lithium primary cells (in several chemistries from 1.5 to 3.6V) beat KOH cells by a significant margin for energy density.

Re:Jaded (4, Insightful)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508586)

I am becoming jaded with such articles.

What's annoying are all these material science articles where someone has made a new material at lab-scale and this is immediately extrapolated to commercial products Real Soon Now. About one of those appears each week. This is one of the saner ones, though.

The Great New Material usually turns out to have some problem. It costs too much to make, it's too brittle, it won't work when hot or cold, it's too hazardous, or it has a short lifespan in the intended application. Sometimes this is overcome, but most of the time, not.

There's nothing wrong with having articles about this stuff, but writers should be clear on where they are in the range between "theoretical chemistry indicates this molecule would be insanely great" and "the product is shipping in volume".

Re:Jaded (1)

newcastlejon (1483695) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508840)

There's nothing wrong with having articles about this stuff, but writers should be clear on where they are in the range between "theoretical chemistry indicates this molecule would be insanely great" and "the product is shipping in volume".

You have to admit, though, that it's at least more exciting than the latest display tech of the week.

Actually, it's more interesting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37510266)

Actually, it's even more interesting. I'd researched battery market for my $DAYJOB and it turns out that there are _literally_ hundreds of groups working on battery development.

About a third of them are frenetically working on _commercializing_ existing developments, trying to beat other groups in a race to market. In a couple of years we'll see several commercial-ready battery technologies capable of producing batteries with at least 2-3 times the capacity of current ones.

Just imagine - the bloodbath free-for-all competition of battery makers. With patent lawsuits flying left and right. It's going to be FUN FUN FUN!

no headlines for you (1)

epine (68316) | more than 2 years ago | (#37509074)

Here is what I want now: "New AAA batteries lasting twice as long as those currently sold reach the market [...] as measured by independent testing ...

You should rethink your crush on the cute red-haired girl, and maybe settle for deoxygenated speaker cable instead--where basic research to applications cycles at the speed of CTRL-S in PowerPoint. I guess I'm jaded, too, about erection returns.

Serious question: How many headlines does it take to change a battery? Plenty, if you get sucked into the cul de sac of small iterative improvements in the suburb of basic physical limits.

Why do we settle for chump change? I suspect that somewhere among the 10^500 Calabi-Yau manifolds there's a periodic table where every headline is grand. How life organizes in this universe is another question, best explored by those demanding results yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Do take a map and a compass. The parameter space resembles Tokyo pancaked into a Mandelbrot. Just one small wrong turn, no headlines for you.

Re:no headlines for you (1)

strack (1051390) | more than 2 years ago | (#37512782)

your full of shit, and you do go on about it.

Re:no headlines for you (1)

bryan1945 (301828) | more than 2 years ago | (#37513888)

Wow, I want some of what you're smoking!

Re:Jaded (1)

sjames (1099) | more than 2 years ago | (#37510028)

I'll take ANY of these many amazing new breakthroughs in battery technology actually reaching the market.

For that matter, It would be nice if LiIon batteries already in production weren't all embedded in oh so special battery packs that cost way too much. They are made in convenient packages looking much like alkaline batteries and chargeable with standard chargers elsewhere. I use 3.7v 900 mAh 14500 (about the size of a AA) with a built in protection circuit and they work quite well but I have to order them.

Re:Jaded (1)

BlueParrot (965239) | more than 2 years ago | (#37511660)

There has been many nice headlines over the months (years) about such and such new advances in battery technology.

Yep, and battery tech has improved steadily during the same time. The reduction in the sizes of mobile phones is to a large extent due to better battery tech. Black and decker has started selling batteries for their power tools that can recharge in minutes. The iPad would not have been possible with the batteries we had 10 years ago, and so on.

Yea, some of these advances never make it. Some only make it into niche applications ( Lithium sulfur is popular in model airplanes as an example ). However, it is not really in the same ballpark as with the typical hype about energy tech we see. New battery technology actually delivers, and we're starting to get close to practical electric vehicles because of it. There's even cells that are able to do the job , but the price has to come down a bit ( or the price of Oil must go up ).

Imagin ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37508382)

... a beowulf cluster of these!

Posted Already (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37508590)

Wasn't this same story posted about a week ago?

Like more efficient solar panels (5, Interesting)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508674)

There are many improved versions of the Li-Ion battery that last longer (as in more cycles) but they never seem to reach the market. Yeah feck it you can buy loose 18650 LiFePO4 cells and even lithium based supercapacitors but name one phone or laptop a normal person can easily buy with anything other than the bog standard 400-500 cycle-then-dead Li-Ion battery?

I expect that the reason for this is quite sinister - Li-Ion batteries are used to enforce planned obsolescense, which is why standard cells are often packed into an overpriced proprietary plastic casing before sale. Manufacturers of consumer electronics don't want batteries that are still good after thousands of cycles. Apple also deserves a mention for pioneering the idea of packing the battery into the hard to open case of the phone/laptop itself, forcing 99% of the people who own these products to buy a new one as soon as the battery dies.

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37508746)

Exactly! For instance the Playstation Vita and other portable devices that have their battery built-in (i.e. a non user replaceable part) will die after the warranty expired (and most of the time is explicitly excluded from the warranty). Laptops have battery packs that have encryption/some other scheme making it hard for 3rd party vendors, akin to ink jet printer cartridges.

Oh darn. I forgot it's all for "safety".

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (1)

Urza9814 (883915) | more than 2 years ago | (#37508936)

The phone that I bought 6 years ago has an Li-Ion battery. I've been charging it nearly every night for 6 years (though it's almost never entirely dead at that point), and it'll still go a week on a single charge. I've never noticed any problems with Li-Ion capacity reducing with age except in laptops...which I've always heard was more a problem of heat than charge cycles.

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37509202)

You sound like the kind of guy who has a tremendous PENIS.

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | more than 2 years ago | (#37509022)

But did they only come up with this sinister plan once Li-Ion made its way onto their market, then?

Because apparently that sinister plan wasn't in place for regular alkaline batteries.
And it wasn't in plan for NiCd batteries.
And while my older candybar phone still has a NiMH battery, my newer one has a LiPo ( I guess I skipped the Li-Ion generation ).
And this while LiPo tech has been around for over a decade.

Don't worry, LiFePO4's time in your cellphone will come (apparently it's already in use in the OLPC ( http://wiki.laptop.org/go/Laptop_Batteries#GoldPeak_LiFePO4 [laptop.org] ) ).

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (2)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 2 years ago | (#37509078)

Maybe instead of a vast conspiracy, it's because LiFePO4 batteries have a much lower energy density? They can be charged much faster, but would you carry a 200W power brick to take advantage of it?
Lithium based ultracaps have on the order of 10% of the energy density of Li-Ion batteries. Would you carry a laptop that lasted 30 minutes per charge?

Most people will have their batteries replaced if it every stops holding a charge. Seems like a fair tradeoff to have devices last 30% longer per charge.

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | more than 2 years ago | (#37509088)

In case you haven't noticed, li-poly batteries have been in consumer devices for the last year or two. I have an Energizer XP2000 that has one. The iPhone4's non-replaceable battery is a li-po.

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (2)

ickleberry (864871) | more than 2 years ago | (#37509308)

Which has almost no or very little increase in durability over standard Li-Ion. The main advantage of them is that they can be made into a nice proprietary shape

Heat does negatively effect Li-Ion batteries, Ideally they are stored at a few degrees C and half-charged. There also seems to be a huge variation in the quality of these batteries. I know there are plenty of Nokia 6310i's around still on the original battery but my laptop battery from 12/2009 is already down to 57%

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37509800)

Yes, that "proprietary shape" ability means you can squeeze every last little bit of extra space in the device into useful battery capacity, unlike a battery shape that had to be designed to be removable (along with the space that has to be given up for the battery bay itself and the door mechanism etc).

It sounds like you're suggesting the only reason manufacturers moved to LiPoly over Li-ion is because it meant they could make batteries that were incompatible with other devices.

Oddly enough, the Li-poly battery in the "king of lockdown" Apple iPhone that I just replaced is a nice, proprietary.... rectangle. It doesn't even have "patented" rounded corners! The shock is palpable.

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (1)

jo_ham (604554) | more than 2 years ago | (#37509756)

Apple also deserves a mention for pioneering the idea of packing the battery into the hard to open case of the phone/laptop itself, forcing 99% of the people who own these products to buy a new one as soon as the battery dies.

It took me 10 minutes to change a dead battery in an iPhone 3GS, and that included making a cup of tea.

The battery swap in a Macbook Pro is similarly very simple (it's as easy to get to as adding/changing RAM - the battery is right next to the RAM slots).

If you think it's hard to open, you've been listening to the conspiracy theorists a little too much or you've never actually tried it yourself.

Far from the built in battery being a sinister ploy to "enforce obsolescence", might I suggest Occam's Razor? Built in batteries can be bigger, and with less design compromise since you don't need a battery bay and associated pieces, or the requirement to have the battery accessible from the outside, meaning you can also have odd shapes and so on. The reason built in batteries work well is that their downsides are considerably less than their benefits - namely higher battery capacity and smaller, sleeker devices.

Any electronics manufacturer will be jumping on improved battery tech like a tramp on hot chips since the benefits far outweigh any conspiracy theories about "the upgrade treadmill".

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (1)

Solandri (704621) | more than 2 years ago | (#37510436)

but name one phone or laptop a normal person can easily buy with anything other than the bog standard 400-500 cycle-then-dead Li-Ion battery?

The number of charge cycles you can get out of a Li-ion battery depends on how deeply you cycle it. If you regularly charge it to 100% and drain it to 0%, it'll only last a couple hundred cycles. If you limit it between 25%-75% (like the Chevy Volt does) it'll last a lot longer.

The reason why it's mostly laptops which suffer from early Li-ion battery death is because they tend to be run from 100% to 0%, and early models (and some current ones) keep topping off the battery while it's on AC. It'll hit 100%, the charger shuts off, the battery naturally discharges a bit and hits 99%, and the charger immediately tops it up to 100% again. Repeat a dozen times a day for a year and you end up with a battery which only lasts 15 minutes.

The problem isn't as common on phone batteries because they're mostly used off AC, and they're almost never allowed to run down to 0%. So they're being charged to 100%, but usually only discharged to 20% or so before recharging.

I'm seeing more and more laptops which are aware of this problem and attempt to address it. The Thinkpads have a utility which lets you pick the charge and recharge points. I have my dad's Thinkpad set to stop charging at 90%, and not top off the battery until it drops below 80%. Sony has a utility which lets you select 50% or 80% as the max charge. And one other brand I can't recall has a 20% disparity between the mAh written on the pack and the mAh reported to Windows, which makes me suspect the battery is intentionally misreporting its capacity to Windows to keep it between something like 10% and 90% charge.

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (1)

Fahrvergnuugen (700293) | more than 2 years ago | (#37510882)

I know nothing about batteries, but I do know that the current MacBook Pro & Air ship with a Li-ion that lasts 1000 charge cycles. That's a full 3x longer than my last generation MBP's battery lasted.

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37511794)

I always wonder how retards like you get modded to +5. This site is really going down the drain.

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (1)

cavebison (1107959) | more than 2 years ago | (#37512542)

I expect that the reason for this is quite sinister

It's not sinister at all, why it's perfectly legal and indeed encouraged. It's called Capitalism. And yes, it's inherently designed to eat up everything in sight. Still, no different to any other species that eats itself out of house and home on a regular basis. We are "smart", but not that smart.

More alternatives (1)

pinkeen (1804300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37514394)

LiFePO4 lasts longer in terms of cycles, but has half the energy density of standard LiIon (and lower nominal voltage), I think that's why you don't see it in appliances. But it's an interesting battery - it has very low internal resistance which means you can pull a LOT of current from it what makes it great for certain applications (intermittent usage, high peak-current). What's more the LiFePO4 chemistry is safe, it won't explode in your face because of a short. Another alternative are LiMn cells, they have the same voltage as ordinary LiIon (can be used as drop-in replacement), slightly lower energy density, can supply high currents and last twice (or maybe more?) as long. From what I hear this chemistry is not feasible for small batteries (in terms of volume). Oh and they rarely explode.

Re:More alternatives (1)

pinkeen (1804300) | more than 2 years ago | (#37514434)

As far as the alternatives are concerned. Usually only LiPoly batteries are used in smartphones, etc. because other chemistries require sturdy metal casing (which is relatively HEAVY) and are hard to fit effectively in a thin, rectangular factor.

Re:Like more efficient solar panels (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#37516172)

Apple also deserves a mention for pioneering the idea of packing the battery into the hard to open case of the phone/laptop itself, forcing 99% of the people who own these products to buy a new one as soon as the battery dies.

Yeah, because in a year's time when my laptop battery dies, I'll pay the $150 ($100 for a chinese OEM may-explode version) for a new one. NOT.

Most consumers don't buy spare batteries. Check it out sometime on what phones you can buy third party Li-Ion batteries for, and the selection will tend to be very weak unless the phone or laptop in question is very popular. A laptop older than 2 years or so, the replacement's so expensive it's not worth it. I'd be curious as to the sell through rate for spare batteries back when Apple still had replacable batteries. I'd guess that by the time you needed them, you couldn't find them (and since they wear out sitting on the shelf...).

Sure, business people will gripe (and they have a legitimate point), but Apple doesn't (and hasn't) care for them.

So yeah, it's a great conspiracy that Apple recognized that the vast majority of its customers don't ever use the replacable feature of its batteries, and by saving the space taken up by the battery, they can stick even larger ones inside their devices. Something most other manufacturers (Kindle, new Nooks, practically all tablets, iPad or Android or otherwise) have seen as well.

There's still some devices that recognize the need (e.g., cameras and camcorders) because people do buy spares for it, but for others, the only reason for it to be removable is tradition.

Every month or so.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37509804)

We get a story about new tech promising an order-of-magnitude increase in the capacity of lithium batteries

We have yet to see any come to fruition.

Another thing that I'll never really see (2)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 2 years ago | (#37510136)

Sure, we all want this. And I realize I'm likely to get moded down, not because I'm saying anything wrong but because someone who saw the original story and was excited doesn't like hearing the truth. But I'm getting a bit tired of hearing about all of these advances in battery technology that never actually seem to make it to the marketplace, in spite of claims that the advance can quickly and easily be applied to current production techniques.. Of course if this stuff really panned out we wouldn't even need batteries, we would all be using those nano-particle based super capacitors that I read about here years ago.

Lifecycle? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37510820)

I would wonder how many times you could cycle this battery before the thing breaks down due to all that swelling and contracting, esp under automotive environmental conditions of extreme cold, heat, heat rate of change, large current demand while cold, fast charge cycle, etc, etc.

Also are these things fail safe? if there's an internal short, is the damage self-limiting, or will it feed back on itself and blow up? There's a lot of energy density in there.

Add it to the list of 'new battery breakthroughs' (1)

VJmes (2449518) | more than 2 years ago | (#37511166)

Batteries are inherently a difficult component to innovate and develop. Putting aside limitations in chemistry and the costs involved, batteries are also subject to some of the toughest criteria before it'll even be considered viable for use in consumer products, operating temperatures, toxicity, size & weight, availability, longevity, stability & manufacturing scalability are some of the factors that need to be considered before new battery technology can be used. Once a battery meets all of the criteria, history has shown companies are quick to adopt it into their products (Sometimes a little too quickly), plus companies are willing to invest quite a bit of money into R&D of battery technology. Probably the more notable advantage that companies are now starting to really work towards making components more power efficient and not just because being 'green' is a good marketing phrase. At the end of the day though, battery technology is still woefully behind every other technology in a mobile/portable or even technology in a modern car.

3X expansion? (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37511182)

Does that mean that you need empty space surrounding the battery equal to three times the volume of the discharged battery? If that's the case, you get 8 times the charge capacity but it occupies 3 times the space so is it equivalent to slightly more than doubling existing batteries? Have I missed something?

Re:3X expansion? (1)

Rainwulf (865585) | more than 2 years ago | (#37511332)

No, the anode matrix has the physical dimensions designed to store the lithium at its maximum size.
This limitation of the anode matrix is why its incredibly dangerous to overcharge a lithium based battery, as once the anode matrix is full of lithium, it has nowhere else to go, hence.. boom.

This technology is special in that its allowing a much greater growth in the size of the stored particles, while still maintaining electrical contact during discharge, and allowing the full particle size when charging. The anode matrix itself is just designed to hold the lithium compounts while maintaining electrical contact, and yet stopping the anode and cathode from shorting together which once again ends in boom.

Thats the issue with lithium technology, charge too fast, boom, discharge too fast, boom, charge to long, boom.
Pretty well do exactly what it says it can do, otherwise, boom.

Re:3X expansion? (1)

RogueWarrior65 (678876) | more than 2 years ago | (#37511418)

Ah, okay, thanks for the edumacation. Now if we could make smaller high-torque motors...

Fool me seven or more times, shame on me (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#37513476)

I've read quite enough "miracle breakthrough" stories down the years to waste my time on this one. It'll be yet another bunch of beardy weirdies claming a theoretical result in the lab which is a magnitude short of the headline, but they have a plan to make a breakthrough (the plan being the only plan) real soon now. Insert more funding to continue.

If it's not on the market, it's not news. End of story.

Yawn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37518740)

Great they and 100000 other groups have revolutionary lithium anode research! Wake me when they get to production and I'll buy some. Until then I guess A123 is my best bet for advanced batteries.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>