Powering Up a New Breed of Batteries

Although lithium ion remains the king in portable gadgets, one of the most talked-about new technologies is the fuel cell. These create electricity from a simple reaction, typically that of a methanol and water mixture and air. They're generating interest because they can provide a relatively large amount of power from a small amount of inexpensive fuel.

Published: 21-Jan-2006

class=regtext>No matter how portable gadgets become, there's a time when they all must come back to earth: recharging time.

As a result, the quest for longer battery life still occupies much development time. For proof of this, just look at new technologies for mobile devices. Whether they are screens, processors, storage or other components, they usually share the advantage of lower power consumption.

Much of the development work is focused on making batteries based on current technologies, such as lithium ion, last longer, and an increasing amount of time is being spent looking into new technologies such as fuel cells.

"Lithium ion has been improving at a rate of about 9% per year since a decade ago when Sony introduced the first" battery based on this technology says Ric Fulop, co-founder of A123 Systems, a startup that's developed a high-power battery. The company has attracted investments from Qualcomm and Motorola. Although it's initially focusing on high-current devices such as power tools, it sees opportunities in the electronics sector.

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