New Hyper-Efficient Batteries Unleashed

A new line of rechargeable batteries is energizing the power-tool industry and soon be used everything from vacuum cleaners to hybrid cars. The batteries promise to have 5 times the power, 10 times the life of current batteries. They also are said to have the ability to recharge to 90% capacity within 5 minutes. The manufacturer, A123 Systems recently unveiled its new line of hyper-efficient lithium-ion batteries. They already have a deal with Black & Decker that will see new power tools with their batteries on store shelves next year. According to Clean Break, this technology, built on MIT research, has been tested thoroughly by Motorola and U.S. government research labs. A123's batteries could boost the viability of hybrid-electric and all-electric vehicles. The company says it is working on a "major undertaking" with the U.S. Department of Energy in this area.

The technology driving A123 is based on discoveries by MIT professor Yet-Ming Chiang, a materials scientist. Dr. Chiang, who co-founded A123, says "research in batteries is very seductive," because it initially looks easy to boost power, but many variations turn out to shorten battery life or make batteries so unstable that runaway oxidation explosions occur. "They are chemically complex, electrically complex and mechanically complex," he says.

:: A123 Systems via Clean Break. See also this Wall Street Journal article.