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Sony to make rechargeable batteries last 4x longer

No more exploding handsets?

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To read the Sony press release, you’d think that it had virtually invented the Lithium Ion battery in the first place, but now it has come up with a breakthrough next step – with a battery that will survive far more charges and discharges without its performance decaying.

Sony says it has come up with a battery which will have a lifetime of four times as long as previous rechargeable batteries, and will almost certainly find their way into Netbooks, portable gaming players, laptops and of course handsets and cameras, all of which Sony makes.

Sony Launches High-power, Long-life Lithium Ion Secondary Battery Using Olivine-type Lithium Iron Phosphate as the Cathode Material

Shipping already

To be clear we’re not saying they will go four times as long on a single charge, but that they won’t stop working efficiently after a year; it’s more likely to be three or four. Sony is being cautious and says that early applications of the new type of Lithium battery will be for power tools and devices which need to drive motors, but there seems to be no reason why it won’t then get applied to handsets and smartbooks.

The technology relies on using Olivine-type Lithium Iron Phosphate as the cathode material which, Sony says, combines high-power and long-life performance, and shipments have already begun.

The Olivine-type lithium iron phosphate is in a more robust crystal format which remains stable even at high temperatures. No more exploding handset batteries which have to be recalled then on handsets and laptops.

The new battery combines this new cathode material with Sony's proprietary particle design technology to minimize resistance and this lets it deliver high power output. Sony says it has achieved a power density of 1800W/kg and extended life span of approximately 2,000 charge-discharge cycles. These batteries retain 80 per cent of their charge after 2,000 recharges and the batteries can recharge in just 30 minutes. The lifetime of the batteries will be around four times those in use today.

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Faultline is published by Rethink Research, a London-based publishing and consulting firm. This weekly newsletter is an assessment of the impact of the week's events in the world of digital media. Faultline is where media meets technology. Subscription details here.

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