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The Next Notebook Battery? Lithium Polymer

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the better-than-a-burning-notebook-in-your-lap dept.

Portables 124

Lewis Clarke writes "Sony is changing its course to use an old technology for its new battery manufacturing. ZDNet is reporting on comments from Sony Electronics President Stan Glasgow, where he said that Notebook makers will 'likely' soon choose to incorporate lithium polymer batteries (a battery technology that emerged nine years ago) over the current commonly used type, lithium ion batteries." From the article: "Lithium polymer batteries use lithium as an active ingredient. Lithium is a volatile material, but the lithium in these batteries isn't packed into cells as it is in lithium ion batteries. Instead, it is contained in a polymer gel. These gel batteries can't provide the same sort of energy density as lithium ion batteries, but that's now a plus."

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Eh? (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163348)

I must be getting confused - I thought Lithium Polymer was better than Lithium Ion?

Or, giving them their full name, are they not referring to Lithium Ion Polymer batteries?

Re:Eh? (5, Informative)

arth1 (260657) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163514)

I must be getting confused - I thought Lithium Polymer was better than Lithium Ion?

In some ways. It's the same thing, really, but packaged two different ways. Both are often called Li-Ion batteries, cause they are. The main two advantages of Lithium Polymer are:
(A) They can be shaped in all kinds of odd shapes, which is a benefit when you also pack some circuitry inside the battery package, or have to use space as best you can.
(B) They are less likely to explode, as there's resistance in the gel medium itself that hinders (if not completely prevents) a chain reaction.

The main downside to Li-Polymer is that it is less efficient by volume and weight.

Regards,
--
*Art

NOT TRUE (5, Interesting)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163702)

Actually Lipo are more likely to explode. Most Lipo battery cells contain plastic whereas lithium ion cells are metal.

Lipo battery warning for R/C aviation [wattflyer.com]

I use both battery types in various aircraft. The lithium polymer is much less stable. I've seen a pack swell and be ready to vent just by knocking one off of a table onto the ground. Lithium ion will not do this. Also, keep in mind that any battery will explode if you overcharge it.

Re:NOT TRUE (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164476)

Actually Lipo are more likely to explode.

No, not explode. They just pop and burn. There isn't a metal can holding them together than can explode. That's the difference people are talking about.

Re:NOT TRUE (4, Informative)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164520)

True, its not a forceful explosion but the flames are so intense it wouldn't really matter (without the danger of shrapnel). NiMH and Nicad can explode as well but it takes a lot to get them to that point - usually overcharging. Lipos can go just from being dropped.

How many laptops do you see being dropped? Apparently there is enough lap top dropping that IBM was advertising how sturdy their laptops were a few years back.

Re:NOT TRUE (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164738)

Never seen one dropped, but I've seen one closed with a pen lying on top of the keyboard. Cracked the display diagonally on an almost brand new ThinkPad. Ugh.

Re:NOT TRUE (1)

laffer1 (701823) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165886)

I've seen a laptop get thrown across the room out of anger in my old job. (tech support at a university) That woman had a PHD, but she couldn't figure out that laptops break when they hit the ground. Dell didn't cover that. This was a new laptop as her last one had a large cup of coffee dropped on it. Dell did replace the keyboard and motherboard and we cleaned it up. She refused to use it though. I guess she didn't like the smell of starbucks after all. Don't worry, she was fired eventually.

More recently, I saw an Apple Xserve get dropped! It was in a 12u enclosure and my boss was trying to slide it into the cover at the top. (first server in there) The case was bent and he bled on the power supply. Surprisingly, only the PCI riser, memory and drive units were loosened. It booted up fine after those issues were resolved. So any computer can be dropped.

Re:NOT TRUE (2, Funny)

knipknap (769880) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165638)

Actually Lipo are more likely to explode.

If the laptop owner has a chance of survival Sony might have to replace the device. With LiPo batteries, the number of reclaims could be greatly reduced.

Re:NOT TRUE (1)

shlashdot (689477) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165684)

Seems to me that if you are searching for energy density, the only way to safety is intelligent partitioning. I forsee what I call a "quantum battery" with logic being an integral part of the battery, allowing management of discreet, small packets.

Not sure about the weight thing. (4, Informative)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163848)

The main downside to Li-Polymer is that it is less efficient by volume and weight.

This, I think, is not true. LiIons may be more efficient by volume, but LiPos are almost certainly more efficient per weight, because they don't have the cells, or many of the protection mechanisms that LiIon batteries have to have.

The power/weight advantage is why they're used in applications where weight is more important than volume -- R/C aircraft, for instance. When LiPo batteries came out, they basically replaced NiCads and LiIon batteries overnight in most ultralight aircraft and helis, because they're just so much lighter (meaning that if you had an aircraft designed for NiCads, which wasn't atypical, you could get ridiculous flight time by upgrading to LiPoly cells).

But being more efficient per volume, that I could definitely believe.

The other big advantage I have heard is that with LiPo, you don't have to encase the batteries as heavily, so more of the weight and volume can actually be taken up with electricity-storing components, instead of as an 'exoskeleton' providing protection for the cells.

Re:Not sure about the weight thing. (1)

Anti_Climax (447121) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164362)

The other big advantage I have heard is that with LiPo, you don't have to encase the batteries as heavily, so more of the weight and volume can actually be taken up with electricity-storing components, instead of as an 'exoskeleton' providing protection for the cells.
I'd imagine this has a lot to do with how the manufacturer decides to package the cells.

My room mate has a few electric RC helicopters and he swapped out the NiMH cells that came with them for bare cell LiPos. They were large flat cells reminiscent of a small stack of playing cards, and they had *no* external casing beyond a flexible plastic covering. Super high capacity for the weight, but you could bend them in half with your hands.

On more than one occasion he had a rough landing that would damage one or more cells. I'm not suggesting that all the LiPos are in the same boat, but it doesn't seem that it's gauranteed that one is going to be better encased than another.

Re:Not sure about the weight thing. (3, Informative)

araemo (603185) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165590)

The advantage to custom designed LiPoly batteries is that you can pack them into tons of nooks and crannies. The thing that still amazes me about your average laptop is that inside that fancy plastic battery pack is a row of cylindrical batteries with air around them. Lipoly fills in all that air with one solid mass of battery, so while the literal energy storing material may be less volume efficient, you can make more efficient use of volume in your designs as opposed to standard LiIon.

Re:Eh? (1)

AcidLacedPenguiN (835552) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163628)

So now we're going to have to expect an hour and a half of battery life instead of the now standard three and a half hour. . .

I don't know about anyone else, but I think i'd risk MORE explosive batteries if I could get like 9 hours of juice on my notebook.

you could... (3, Funny)

zogger (617870) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164364)

...if you as a consumer would indicate to the vendors that long range battery life is more important than over-all laptop or cellphone lightness. Are you willing to carry an extra pound or two in weight with your laptop? You can have (potentially) a bigger battery, that might be made better-more rugged-so that it is safer plus has good range. Consumers demand the lightest though (I call it the wimpification of society factor), so the vendors are stuck trying to accomodate that. Let the vendors know, starting at the local retail store and on up, tell them you want better batteries, even though it might be heavier. They won't change unless consumers change, end of story. 3 lb laptop with exploding batteries and no hang time, or maybe a 5 lb laptop that actually works and runs all day and doesn't catch fire. Now, maybe it's just me, but I would prefer the 5 lb model (whatever, units used for demonstration purposes only).

Now I have a beef with the cellphones, with the constantly shrinking size, last two stores I went into had no cell phones that to me are large enough to be useful. I don't want a tiny screen and buttons so small you mash three of them at once..but..that's all I am seeing until you get into the ridiculous price class range of PDAs, and now even those (smartphones) are too small. I'd swap 90% of the non phone call making functions in the phone if it was just a larger and to me a more practical phone. The couple I have now I will hang on to as long as possible because they are still moderately useful, but looking at the trends it looks like they want to embed cellphones into a tooth cavity or something pretty soon. I don't know what Lilliputians they use to test drive these new phones, but they have to be three foot tall max with fingers as big as toothpicks and eyes sharp as eagles.

All MacBook Pros/MacBooks use LiPo (2, Informative)

ModernGeek (601932) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165828)

All of Apples MacBooks and MacBook Pros have used LiPo since their debut in January. That's why battery life was uncertain, because LiPo had not been used in notebooks before. I hear they are supposed to be better than LiIon.

A Better Idea (5, Funny)

value_added (719364) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163352)

Why not use dilithium [wikipedia.org] , instead?

Re:A Better Idea (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163378)

Why not use dilithium [wikipedia.org] , instead?
because it's fictional, you trektard

Re:A Better Idea (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163882)

because it's fictional, you trektard

No, it also exists in reality. [419eater.com]

Re:A Better Idea (4, Funny)

JabberWokky (19442) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163466)

Hell, skip that and go straight to trilithium [memory-alpha.org] . If it's good enough for Romulan weaponry, it's good enough to power my laptop... which is placed on my lap... right over my genitals...

Okay, maybe we should rethink this whole battery thing and go back to luggables.

--
Evan

Re:A Better Idea (1)

j00r0m4nc3r (959816) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164766)

I've heard that dihydrogen monoxide [dhmo.org] can store tons of energy.

Re:A Better Idea (1)

tehwebguy (860335) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163752)

dilithium? might as well be NiMH

now if you want some REAL power you need Energon [wikipedia.org]

Re:A Better Idea (1)

bigred85 (1030936) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165826)

Man, screw Energon.
I think we ought to skip that stage and go right to having Leadership Matrices installed.
Imagine, one minute you're working with an old Dell notebook (provided it hasn't exploded in the first place), and after installation
you see it transformed into Inspiroptimus Prime! Crap, now watch this get modded "Flamebait" for the Dell example.

That's so...Isolinear! (2, Funny)

Tungbo (183321) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164028)

Didn't you hear that everyone has switched over to gel packs?

Re:A Better Idea (2, Funny)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164150)

"Why not use dilithium, instead?"

Because Klingons flooded the market with substandard crystals. Damn near caused humpbacks to go extinct.

Dilithium won't supply you any power! (2, Informative)

freeze128 (544774) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165178)

Dilithium is just a catalyst for the matter/antimatter reaction. You would still need a supply of matter, and antimatter, and containment, which would add way too much to the weight for your puny earth laptop.

In TNG, all their hand-held and portable devices use Sarium-Krellide power cells.

Re:Dilithium won't supply you any power! (1)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166100)

I thought the Dilithium was not so much a catalyst as a moderator. Generally you don't need to do much to cause matter/antimatter combinations to react once they touch, the trick was not having the energy release blow the matter (and more importantly antimatter) streams against the walls of the engine.

the true power (1)

legallyillegal (889865) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163360)

these new batteries' true power will be displayed when they blow up. until then...

Re:the true power (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163796)

i tried using these batteries, and my cousin's wife was kidnapped.

But? (1)

jrwr00 (1035020) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163362)

What is the ratio for power:wight

Re:But? (2, Funny)

Apocalypse111 (597674) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165632)

The power:wight [wikipedia.org] ratio? What kind of necromancy are you planning on doing with your laptop?

Battery advice from Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163366)

Right. I'm going to take advice on laptop batteries from Sony. Is this their fix for the spontaneously combusting laptop batteries they've been selling Dell?

I don't know about that (3, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163368)

Li-Poly batteries have been around awhile. Hobbyists were the first I know to use them. I don't know that they have improved in safety issues over the last few years, but perhaps you should see the following
example of a li-poly flame out before buying li-poly batteries?

http://www.rcgroups.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15 1687 [rcgroups.com]

Re:I don't know about that (1)

UnknowingFool (672806) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163478)

So they don't explode, but they do catch on fire. I suppose you could put it out but that kind of choice is like the dentist asking you if you want a root cananl or a tooth extraction. Neither is very pleasant. Or so I'm told. :)

Re:I don't know about that (0, Offtopic)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163528)

An extraction isn't even in the same ballpark as a root canal in terms of discomfort at the time.

Of course, there's a perceived benefit in keeping the tooth.

Re:I don't know about that (1)

BlackSnake112 (912158) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164994)

you do know that form does catch fire really easy right? The melted foam in the last pic is totally not a surprise. One can burn foam with a match. Maybe if the example used something that doesn't melt as fast, like an old laptop case? Don't movie people use burning foam cups in sound effects?

One of the first (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17165146)

Motorola was one of the first to start using Li-On Polymer batteries on portable electronic devices. It was about 9 years ago.

US Patent 5,620,811 [patentmonkey.com]

I was doing some reading on this... (1)

jimstapleton (999106) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163370)

I thought lithium polymer was actually newer than lithium ion? Yeah, it's less energy dense, but it's a lot safer, as it is much less likely to burst into flames (though it can still happen from over charging or too-fast charging if I remember correctly).

Re:I was doing some reading on this... (1)

mr_matticus (928346) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166318)

I think the implication of the title is that they're turning to pre-existing technology, rather than starting from scratch (creating a new technology). I don't believe it's meant to imply that LiPoly is older than LiIon.

Kaboom? (4, Funny)

sam_paris (919837) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163372)

Is it just me or do others start to feel nervous when Sony start trying to push new battery technology..?

Re:Kaboom? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164614)

And on headphones too, don't forget the headphones

Re:Kaboom? No, Kaching!! (1)

Hercules Peanut (540188) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165038)

The article is slashdotted so don't bash me for NOT RTFA, please.

That said, is it just me or does anyone else think the best way to push a new technology is to make an old tried and true one seem dangerous and unreliable.

Kind of like making freon out to be the environmental bad guy just as the patent runs out and something new comes online to replace it.

O.K. I'm paranoid but someone must have done this to make me this way.

Please go back to the drawing board... (5, Funny)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163386)

Less power and less bang for the buck? Can't wait for the marketing people to spin that one.

Re:Please go back to the drawing board... (1)

RealGrouchy (943109) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163638)

Less power and less bang for the buck? Can't wait for the marketing people to spin that one.

Heck, if that's the direction we're going in, I'm investing in potatoes! [latteier.com]

- RG>

Re:Please go back to the drawing board... (3, Funny)

neonstz (79215) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163674)

Given Sony's track record, less bang for the buck is most likely intentional :)

Re:Please go back to the drawing board... (1)

itlurksbeneath (952654) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163962)

Marketing literature:



New battery technology! Offers slightly less power, but now 93% less likely to explode!

Why? (2, Interesting)

TheUnknownOne (810624) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163398)

Why is less energy density a plus? I would like a laptop with a long battery life, and improvements in processor technology should be used to increase battery life, not reduce the capacity of batteries.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163532)

Obviously you have been on Mars if you haven't heard about exploding Li-ion batteries in laptops.

Re:Why? (1)

Attrition_cp (888039) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164804)

I'm guessing by lowering the density the chance of explosions (or general volatility) would decrease. But I don't know anything about it.

Re:Why? (1)

SSCGWLB (956147) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165052)

Could it be because they weigh significantly less per volume? So, if you need 20% more by volume but the battery weighs 50% less (I just made up these numbers), your battery might be bit larger but it weighs a LOT less. I could see how this might be a acceptable tradeoff for certain applications.

Or, Sony is tired of replacing exploding batteries and is looking for a new type that fails in a less spectacular fashion :)

...but that's now a plus (2)

gumpish (682245) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163404)

"These gel batteries can't provide the same sort of energy density as lithium ion batteries, but that's now a plus."
Why is that a plus? Seems to me having more energy stored in my battery is a good thing. Shoddy manufacturing, exploding batteries and class action lawsuits notwithstanding.

Re:...but that's now a plus (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163574)

It's simple, ALL LITHIUM BATTERIES ARE BOMBS!!! Less energy density means it is a safer bomb. This said, remeber these things are still bombs.

Re:...but that's now a plus (1)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165104)

Why is that a plus? Seems to me having more energy stored in my battery is a good thing. Shoddy manufacturing, exploding batteries and class action lawsuits notwithstanding.

It's a plus because they hold less and they are more expensive, so Sony can sell you more expensive backup batteries which run out more frequently! Remember, someone has to pay for the price of exploding laptops...

What color is the sky at Sony HQ? (1)

BeBoxer (14448) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163438)

These gel batteries can't provide the same sort of energy density as lithium ion batteries, but that's now a plus.

Um, no it's not a plus. Well, maybe for Sony since they can't seem to manufacture LiIon batteries reliably. But for the rest of the industry, I'm pretty sure lower engergy density (and hence shorter runtimes and/or larger batteries) is a minus. Otherwise we would all be running our laptops on alkalines.

lifetime? (3, Interesting)

compro01 (777531) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163470)

unless things have changed, i remember that the original iPod used a Lithium-polymer battery and i've heard that the useful lifetime of the battery wasn't that great (less than 50% usable capasity after 1 year), which prompted Apple to switch to a regular lithium-ion for the 2nd and later generations.

has anything changed with this or is what i've heard BS?

Re:lifetime? (5, Informative)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163908)

has anything changed with this or is what i've heard BS?

You can design in a larger and more costly charger manager in a notebook battery than you can in a digital audio player. More sophisticated charge management ICs have dead battery precharging cycles, thermimstor inputs to watch cell temp, and smarter logic for charging battery depending on state of charge when you plug it in to the charger. The smaller, low cost chargers you use for small electronics aren't nearly so smart, most just stop charging at a given voltage (or at the end of the safety timeout).

Anyway, you can get better battery lifetime if you can afford the cost and size of a fancier charger. Doesn't mean the guys designing small devices are doing a bad job, they just have a different tradeoff to make when doing the design.

Re:lifetime? (1)

darkshadow (102598) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165992)

I have an original 5GB iPod, and until early this year when I bought a new one, I still got over 11 hours of battery life.

Re:lifetime? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164100)

has anything changed with this or is what i've heard BS?

No, Apple still sucks.

Re:lifetime? (1)

Loconut1389 (455297) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165426)

I was in charge of fixing about a dozen compaq iPaq 3650's from quite a few years ago- and I'm fairly certain they had a lithium polymer battery (it was a little squishy, flexible pack (don't bend it intentionally though)- all 10 of these units wouldn't hold a charge and wouldn't charge up. They were used heavily, but recharged a little too often some of the time and not often enough the rest of the time. Some of them started to have the charge problems then, so they were taken out of service and after about 6 months of sitting around idle the rest plunked out too. So, I bought 10 new batteries online and fixed them all- which worked for about 2 weeks and then they died as well. I'm left with the conclusion that perhaps theres a charging circuit problem.

In any case, LiPolymer is not new, as has been said- and predates the ipod by at least a couple years.. and at least with this one product, battery life does suck.

Not that I saw (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166342)

i remember that the original iPod used a Lithium-polymer battery and i've heard that the useful lifetime of the battery wasn't that great (less than 50% usable capasity after 1 year),

I don't know if I'm lucky or what, but my 1st gen iPod still holds a 9+ hour charge - I know because of the class action lawsuit that included a method for battery testing, and which did not include my iPod as a result of the test.

Lithium Polymer is already in use (4, Informative)

syncrotic (828809) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163474)

High end notebooks from Dell, IBM, and possibly others all use lithium polymer batteries for their drivebay batteries, where space is extremely tight and the geometry is suboptimal for cylindrical cells. Li-polymer batteries can be made into very thin shapes and don't need a metal case to contain individual cells. Because of this, the energy density is actually higher. I think the reason they're not in widespread use is simply that they cost more.

Re:Lithium Polymer is already in use (4, Informative)

edmudama (155475) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164310)

exactly.

Energy density of the raw charge storing material is lower with LiPo, but it doesn't require the same packaging/metal casing, so net energy density is higher.

Something like 2.5 times as much power per weight as Li-Ion battery packs. It's revolutionized RC electrics.

Models that were designed for NiMH cells and were getting 4-5 minutes of flight time, can now get 15 or more minutes of flight.

Re:Lithium Polymer is already in use (1)

volsung (378) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166102)

Apple also uses lithium polymer batteries in the MacBook, MacBook Pro, and iPod Shuffle.

Bollocks. (4, Insightful)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163494)

No, that's not "a plus." That's a cost-benefit tradeoff on the manufacturing side, and a risk-reward proposal on the end-user side. Lower energy density means either shorter battery life or heavier laptops. I don't think anyone would call either of those results a "plus." They're tradeoffs.

Moreover, there are plenty of Li-ion batteries out there that haven't overheated, burned, detonated, or imploded into naked singularities causing the annihilation of life as we know it. Which means, for those batteries, you get to have longer battery life or lighter laptops sans the death and destruction result, so the move from that state to the proposed solution isn't even a tradeoff, it's a pure loss.

Covering for the inadequacy of your manufacturing/QC processes by making a worse product that's easier to make doesn't translate into a "plus." It sounds to me that the real plus would be if they moved to a power source they've obviously got in plenty - though I think the name "spintronics" has already been taken.

Re:Bollocks. (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163736)

Lower energy density means either shorter battery life or heavier laptops.

I wouldn't be too sure about that. The article doesn't really make it clear how well the density compares.

Energy density isn't mass density. It might mean larger notebooks or lower battery life, but it doesn't inherently mean heavier batteries.

The article says that Lithium polimer is more flexible in form factor allowing more choices at design time, so it's not a total negative trade-off

Interesting priorities (2, Interesting)

Mr. Hankey (95668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164082)

I guess whether or not it's a plus depends on how much you value your life. I've used Li-Po batteries in other devices, and they're not that much worse than Li-Ion for most uses with reasonable draw. The lithium inside these batteries is dangerous, put in too much energy (typicaly more than 4.6v per cell for Li-Po) and it'll blow up regardless of whether it's a Li-Po, Li-Ion or Li-Mn. Have a look at this video clip, from a company that makes a Li-Po charging safety device, to see the effect:

http://www.liposack.com/video.html [liposack.com]

That's with Li-Po cells, imagine the reaction from a more dangerous battery. Li-Po batteries have a relatively safe medium in which to pack the lithium vs the other technologies, and they're more tolerant to bad treatment. The batteries do indeed come with somewhat less energy density, but if you have too high of an energy density you have a bomb instead of a battery. That is indeed a tradeoff. Loss occurs when you lose an arm, or the plane you're on crashes due to a laptop fire. Whether or not it happens to you is irrelevant. It only needs to happen once to do damage, and in the case of a plane it needn't be your laptop.

Re:Interesting priorities (1)

Control Group (105494) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166162)

So if you dead short a Li-po battery, you get some spectacular fireworks. If you dead short a Li-ion battery, you get somewhat more spectacular fireworks. By your rationale -

Whether or not it happens to you is irrelevant. It only needs to happen once to do damage, and in the case of a plane it needn't be your laptop.

- I fail to see how Li-po is better. For that matter, I don't know how you can justify using house current - if you dead short across your circuit breaker, you'll get some spectacular fireworks. Much less the high tension lines running through the branches of the tree in your front yard.

There have been plenty of house fires started by faulty wiring in the home. While I don't have numbers to back it up, I would bet my salary for the next decade that more people have been killed, more people have been injured, and more property damage has occurred due to electrical fires in buildings than has happened due to Li-ion or Li-po battery fires. This does not mean a rational response is to only allow houses to draw 10 volts and 5 milliamps. This means a rational response is implementing better ways of mitigating the risk.

But you're right, it comes down to how much you value your life. Me, I take a lot of risks every day. I get out of bed (sudden change in blood flow could trigger a stroke), I shower every morning (do you have any idea how many lethal accidents happen in home bathrooms?), I drive to work (40,000 people a year are killed in car accidents in the US alone), I eat fried foods (heart disease is a leading killer among American males), I've even been known to have the occasional beer or mixed drink (direct ingestion of poison!!). Hell, I've been known to have sex with my fiancee - that's a blood pressure spike-induced coronary just waiting to happen.

Given the insanely high risk way I live my life - I might as well be base jumping into razor wire, for all the care I take - it really shouldn't surprise you that I could be so gruesomely cavalier as to use my cell phone, laptop, and iPod on a regular basis.

Thank God Sony is helping me by not letting me buy a PS3, that would be yet another ticking time bomb in my life.

Re:Bollocks. (0)

aalegado (168251) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164128)

Moreover, there are plenty of Li-ion batteries out there that haven't overheated, burned, detonated, or imploded into naked singularities causing the annihilation of life as we know it.
Obligatory Homer response: mmmmm, singularities.

Re:Bollocks. (1)

VWJedi (972839) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164372)

Moreover, there are plenty of Li-ion batteries out there that haven't ... imploded into naked singularities causing the annihilation of life as we know it.

So far, all of them fall into that category. And I, for one, really hope it stays that way!

Next Notebook Battery? (4, Informative)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163500)

You mean "current notebook battery"?

I'm typing this on a c2d MacBook Pro [apple.com] which lists a lithium polymer battery as its spec. Third bullet line down on that page. I also have a 5GB iPod that uses a lithium polymer battery [apple.com] . Apple went Li-Ion for later iPods, probably for higher capactiy, but I'm on my second battery in 5 years and it gives me more than 8 hours of playtime (haven't tested it beyond that).

I guess that means Apple isn't using Sony for its current batteries?

Re:Next Notebook Battery? (1)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163620)

Actually Apple was using Sony for its batteries and they did a battery recall a day after Dell did. Was fun as I was working at apple at the time. In the end Lithium ion batteries are every ware, form AAA to the laptops, cell phones, ..... In the end if sony changed to a older tech, dose not mean they well force the rest to follow. I believe this well hurt sony more then anything as I am betting there are many other company's willing to make lithium ion. and the risk of one exploding is rather small really compared to how much they are used.

Re:Next Notebook Battery? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163762)

I believe this well hurt sony more then anything as I am betting there are many other company's willing to make lithium ion. and the risk of one exploding is rather small really compared to how much they are used.

Reading between the lines, I'm guessing Sony figures it cost most to handle the recalls, direct and indirect costs, than they were making as profit in the Li-Ion business. If Li-Polymer batteries are less likely to be recalled, they should profit more even if their volumes drop.

Re:Next Notebook Battery? (1)

VEGETA_GT (255721) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164246)

you may be right, but again the size comes into play here. People have say 4 hr's battery life on a 6 lb laptop. they are not going to want to lose the battery life or have the laptop heaver. Remember people grow accustom to things, and if you can't provide they go else ware. Also note besides Sony, have you seen any other mass lithium ion battery recalls. also people besides Sony are still making Lithium Ion, meaning those companies well most likely see a increase in there profects with some competition gone. so if sony goes to a older tech, how many manufactures well follow them and in the end lower there batter life of make heaver laptops. considering the amount of competition for laptops, opting to make your laptop heaver and have lower battery life is not a good thing to do to gain customers when they can go next door and get what they want.

I actually see this as another bone head move by Sony, we say you want this, you must lessen. Same with blue Ray, Beta and da da da

Re:Next Notebook Battery? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164202)

Nokia mobile phones as well. My last 3 phones (a 6310i, a 6230i and now a 6233) all have LiPo batteries. I got the 6310 back in, hmm, probably 2001 or 2002 and I still have it today (I use it as a backup), original battery and all. It holds the charge fantastically well, for a 4 or 5 year old battery, with hundreds of talk hours. I can get around 3 hours of continuous talk time out of it, no problem, and several days on standby.

From my experience, LiPo is way superior to Lion.

Re:Next Notebook Battery? (1)

Dopefish128 (516350) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164438)

From what I understand, LiPol batteries were designed specifically for a bunch of brief charge cycles, like you'd get in a portable electronic device. Since few of us let our laptops run down entirely, this mean that you won't have to recondition them.

That said, their capacity does drop over time, and judging from the cell in my MP3 player, they last about 2 years before it becomes noticeable. It's just that you can't fix it yourself.

I have complete faith in Sony (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163556)

If there's a company that can make even lithium polymer gel packs catch fire and explode, that's Sony.

I also commend them for being so proactive: while the other companies are all focused on the current holiday season, Sony is already planning products for the next 4th of July.

Current draw? (1)

caseih (160668) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163588)

In the RC aircraft world, Lithium Polymer batteries are king, due to their fairly high capacity and incredibly high current draw (some packs up to 40 amps). Several folks have tried making packs out of laptop LiIon cells, but they just can't deliver the amps. Is this true that LiIon packs hold more energy but have a lower maximum amp draw? Most laptops draw about 1-3 amps I believe, so this isn't really an issue, but I am curious.

Re:Current draw? (1)

Calinous (985536) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164158)

Laptop batteries are at some 18 Volts (or so I've seen on one). If you take into account a laptop with P4 Mobile processor, it can't take (the processor itself) less than 50W. Add to this other electricity uses (hard drive, display), and you end up with a need for up to 10 amps at a time.

Lots of sectors already use LiPo (3, Insightful)

Zondar (32904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163598)

I know the model RC community does. Higher end planes and helicopters, especially the all electric ones, tend to use LiPo batteries.

What scares me though... many many reports of fires due to overcharging (shoddy chargers). It is suggested to always charge the LiPos in a 'battery bunker', a clay pot filled with sand, with a lid.

Isn't that what they were trying to prevent with the new laptops?

Re:Lots of sectors already use LiPo (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164078)

What scares me though... many many reports of fires due to overcharging (shoddy chargers). It is suggested to always charge the LiPos in a 'battery bunker', a clay pot filled with sand, with a lid.

If one is really concerned about explosion/fire, I'd leave the lid off -- at least don't fasten it down. Then the setup would resemble a munitions loading bunker.

Re:Lots of sectors already use LiPo (1)

Zondar (32904) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164152)

From one battery-bunker manufacturer's website:

"The loose fitting lid locks on to contain the fire and allows the smoke and flame to vent around the lid and wire slot. The lid is designed to take the initial jolt that occurs."

Re:Lots of sectors already use LiPo (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17165702)

You should see the videos that the makers of LiPoSack put out. When a battery decides to go off, it can shoot around like a rocket. The LiPo sack looks to do a good job snuffing the flame, and keeping the battery in place.

Be VERY careful (4, Informative)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163672)

As my name implies I fly R/C aircraft as a hobby. Within the last few years electric powered models have really taken off. Most of this is due to the Li-Po battery. Lithium Polymer batteries are a subset of Lithium Ion batteries but the design of the cells are different.

Li-Po batteries are small and light and can produce a higher continue current than lithium ion. They are very powerful batteries.

One of the problems though...and why I generally stay away from them is that they explode. They can easily become unstable if dropped (or crashed). I don't claim to be an expert but the cells in a lithium ion battery are metal - they can sustain an impact and vibration where as the cells in a lithium polymer are mostly plastic which can cause a mix of the chemicals inside and cause the battery to heat up until it vents and then explodes.

Fire caused by overcharging [rcgroups.com]

Video of a lipo battery going bad. [helihobby.com]

Re:Be VERY careful (1)

lp60068 (727840) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164576)

Wow - that video of a battery blowing up is good.
I don't see this as safer...

Re:Be VERY careful (1)

NMerriam (15122) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164924)

As my name implies I fly R/C aircraft as a hobby. Within the last few years electric powered models have really taken off.


Thanks folks, I'll be here all week! Try the fish. :P

how about Steorn (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163698)

Seems like this will be old news once Steorn comes out...

Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17163732)

It's like NASA only with batteries

Re:Cool! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164280)

And this post is like intelligence, only with stupidty.

Obligatory (1)

holywarrior21c (933929) | more than 7 years ago | (#17163778)

I for one welcome our lithium polymer gelly overlords whom emerged 9 years ago!!

obligatory2: i'm so sorry i had to...

Polymer is safer (1)

Fengpost (907072) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164068)

The Lithium Polymer gets hoy only when it is charging, as oppose to the common Litium ion battery today gets hot when it is used.

So, when it blows up, there is a smaller likelihood people will be around it!

Re:Polymer is safer (3, Informative)

IflyRC (956454) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164556)

I'll fly my small foam electric plane with a Li-po 1500 mah 11.4 volt battery for 15 minutes. Tell me if the battery isn't hot ;) Trust me, it gets hot and you cannot re-charge these things until the battery cools down.

Already used in laptops (2, Informative)

sith (15384) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164106)

The 17" powerbook G4 and all the macbooks and macbook pros use LiPoly batteries. So does the iPod. (Notice that the Sony recall was only for 15" and 12" powerbook g4s)

Hmmmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17164130)

Why does this sound familiar? Ah, yes!

ca. 1975:

"Ford president Lee Iacocca has said that automakers will 'likely' soon choose to incorporate coal-fired steam engines (an engine technology that emerged three centuries ago) over the current commonly used type, gasoline-fueled internal combustion engines.
"Thes coal-fired steam engines use heat as an active ingredient. Coal is a volatile material, but the coal in these cars isn't packed into tanks as it is in gas-powered autos. Instead, the coal is contained in a trailer towed behind the car. These can't provide the same sort of energy density as gasoline, but that's now a plus."

The shift supervisor of the Pinto manufacturing line refused to comment.

Heavy, Man. (2, Informative)

tryptych (1023927) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164358)

I use Lithium Polymer batteries in my SLR camera. It's a whacking great lump that bolts on the bottom, and although it's way better than conventional AA's (even NiMH), they are hellishy expensive ($300-£400), and they are bloody heavy! One further factor is it's a typical Sony ploy. Invent a totally unique accessory that only Sony make, and charge three times the price for it. (ie, $10 power supplies with an oddball connector they sell for £150) That's why I wont buy anything from those people.

Explode..? (1)

Mizled (1000175) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164366)

Do these new batteries come ready to explode like the lithium ion batteries or do we have to pay extra for that feature?

Lithium (2, Funny)

mqduck (232646) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164398)

Never trust lithium. I took it for years and my brain NEVER worked. I wish I was joking.

Dry Cells (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164750)

> Instead, it is contained in a polymer gel. These gel batteries can't provide
> the same sort of energy density as lithium ion batteries, but that's now a
> plus."

Better yet, go back to carbon-zinc dry cells.

Nirvana (1)

c0d3r (156687) | more than 7 years ago | (#17164934)

Reminds me of that old Nirvana song: "I'm not gonna crack"..Wonder if Sony is going to make laptop batteries with a Lithium Polymer.

Hey? (1)

MoronBob (574671) | more than 7 years ago | (#17165434)

Isn't that the same kind of battery that Uncle Rico is selling?

Lithium is NOT volatile (2, Informative)

jpetts (208163) | more than 7 years ago | (#17166308)

Lithium is a metal with a melting point of 453.69 F and a boiling point of 1615F. It is a REACTIVE metal (being one of the alkali metals), but it is definitely not volatile.
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