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Long-life laptop batteries enter mass production

Promises 16 hours of uptime

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Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

A Canadian outfit has started volume production of long-life batteries which enable notebooks to run for up to 16 hours.

The Electrofuel Power Pad 160 is an external rechargeable lithium Ion battery for notebooks. It weighs 2.5 lbs, measures 8.5" x 11", and costs $499.

Electrofuel has been making the batteries, which are compatible with Acer, IBM, Compaq, Gateway, Panasonic and Toshiba devices, for two years, but it has only been able to produce them in limited quantities (hundreds per month). Last week it opened a 156,000 square foot factory in Toronto, thanks to an IPO last year and private investment, and plans to pump out 30,000 of the batteries per month this year, and 60,000 per month by mid-2002.

It says it will also make the Power Pad compatible with Apple, Dell and Sony by mid-year, and boost its 100 staff to 350 by the end of 2001.

The creators have lots of weird and wonderful ideas for the batteries' use, including an electric bike that can travel 50km on a single charge, and electric cars. The US Automobile Battery Consortium is currently testing out the batteries, according to an Electrofuel representative.

"The demand for portable power is also growing in fields as diverse as transportation, medicine and the environment," said Dr James Jacobs, Electrofuel chief technology officer. "With this facility now established, we can devote more attention to understanding the specific needs of these markets."

The company also plans to get mobile phone batteries onto the market by the end of the year - the prototype was launched last year and gives around eight hours of talk-time and 15 days of standby. The battery, so far only compatible with the Nokia 5000 and 6000 handset models, will weigh less than 55 grams and will cost $99.95.

In addition, there is a successor to the Power Pad 160, the Power Pad 210. Electrofuel says it will look at market demand for the product, which will run a laptop for marathon 21 hour-sessions between charges, after it has cleared its backlog of orders for the 160. This is not expected until after 2001. ®

Related Link

Electrofuel Website

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