Thursday March 2, 2006 9:48 pm
The M1 Super Battery
It’s been said that if you build a better mousetrap, the world will beat a path to your door. While that may have been true some years ago, in today’s ever mobile world, the proverbial mousetrap is now the battery. Electronic devices of all kinds require power, and if it’s not plugged into the wall, that power has traditionally been supplied by the humble battery. Fuel cell technology, while promising, isn’t quite ready for primetime yet so batteries are still center stage. With the battery industry worth billions of dollars, it’s no wonder that companies are always vying to outdo one another for dominance.
With the introduction of the M1, A123 Systems has introduced a remarkable upgrade to the Li-Ion battery. In comparison to a standard Li-Ion cell they’ve been able to double the power density, increase the peak power fivefold, and significantly reduce the time required for charging. Those gains have been accomplished by shrinking the size of the particles that coat the battery’s electrodes from 5-20 microns (standard Li-Ion) to below 100 nanometers for the new M1. Another benefit to the technology is safety. A typical Li-Ion cell when penetrated will explode, whereas an M1 cell will merely emit smoke.
One of the first adopters to bring the M1 technology to market is DeWalt. Their new line of 36-volt power tools have batteries that weigh the same as competitor’s 18-volt products, yet deliver more power and longer runtimes. While DeWalt’s application is all well and good, A123 Systems have their sights set firmly on the automotive industry. For example, the 100-lb battery in a Toyota Prius could have it’s weight reduced by nearly 80% and a quick re-charge to 90% capacity would only take 5 minutes! Certainly a technology to keep an eye on.
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