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Apple exploring technique for dense lithium battery cell creation

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Date: Thursday, February 17th, 2011, 10:27
Category: battery, News, Patents

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It’s a good day for patent stuff and that counts for something.

According to AppleInsider, Apple is investigating techniques to increase the energy capacity of rechargeable lithium battery cells without increasing the size of the battery, allowing longer battery life in future devices.

The proposed invention is detailed in a new patent application published by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week. The filing, titled “Increasing Energy Density in Rechargeable Lithium Battery Cells,” describes charging a battery using a “multi-step constant-current constant-voltage (CC-CV) charging technique.”

The CC-CV charging technique would allow the thickness of the anode active material inside a battery cell to be increased in both “volumetric and gravimetric energy density.” But while the density of the power capacity would be increased, the size of the battery, as well as its maximum charging time and minimum life cycle, would remain unchanged.

Apple’s application notes that the conventional method for increasing the battery capacity, or ampere-hour (mAh), of a lithium-ion or lithium-polymer battery involves increasing the lengths of the anode and cathode current collectors, as well as their coating materials But increasing the area of current collectors results in lower volumetric energy density, and results in a larger battery.

“What is needed is a technique for increasing the energy capacity of a rechargeable lithium battery without increasing the size of the battery sell,” the filing states.

Apple’s application notes that the company intends to make battery cells smaller, allowing the “limited space available in portable electronic devices to be used more efficiently.” The company noted it could use the space savings to add more features, or more battery capacity.

But one issue with employing the multi-step CC-CV charging technique is battery life can be significantly decreased depending on temperature. For example, using the same current-charge density at 10 degrees celsius will lower the cycle life “substantially” when compared to a higher temperature such as 45 degrees.

In addition, current-charge densities further reduce the battery’s cycle life if it is at a higher state of charge, between 70 percent and 100 percent.

Apple’s solution would reduce the charge currents for a mobile device when its battery is at a higher state of charge, or a lower temperature. This would avoid degradation in the cycle life of the battery, and potentially even increase it, without any required change in battery chemistry.

The multi-step charging technique would be compatible with the new battery design and would increase battery life by dynamically adjusting the rate of charge when the battery is at different states of charge, or different temperatures.

The patent application was first filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on Aug. 22, 2009. It is credited to Ramesh C. Bhardwaj and Taisup Hwang.

Tales of Getting a MacBook Pro Battery Replaced

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, December 3rd, 2009, 07:29
Category: battery, MacBook Pro, Opinion

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Blogger David Alison describes a process many of you have been through: going to an Apple Store with a nigh-dead MacBook Pro battery here and the details therein.

The piece also links to Apple’s terms as to which batteries are covered under an AppleCare plan, the company’s page on battery care and how to do a battery calibration via an Apple Knowledge Base article.

It’s a useful read, so give it a gander and if you have any MacBook Pro battery replacement stories of your own, please let us know.

Scientists Look Towards Ferroelectric Transistors for Instant-On Notebook Technologies

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Date: Wednesday, April 29th, 2009, 08:45
Category: battery, News

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Researchers have apparently developed a technology that could allow notebooks to wake up instantly from shut-down states without draining battery life, as is commonly seen today.
According to Macworld UK, researchers have built ferroelectric material (which is usually found on smartcards) onto silicon, which could allow certain transistors to retain information after power is shut off. Scientists from Pennsylvania State University, Cornell University and Northwestern University are involved in the project.
The new findings could save users time by instantly booting laptops to an active and ready state when shut down.
“It would be instant-on, meaning as soon as the power comes back on, your computer would be in exactly the same state it was when you turned it off and ready for action,” said Darrell Schlom, principal investigator and professor at the department of materials science and engineering at Pennsylvania State University.
Quick-boot capabilities are enabled in Notebooks and most mobile devices, though many are unable to recreate shutdown states. As a result, notebooks usually never reboot back to their shutdown state, unless they are in sleep mode, which drains battery power. In essence, ferroelectric materials could wake up laptops from sleep mode, but without drawing any battery power.
The research could pave the way for a new generation of lower-power, higher-speed memory devices, Schlom said. For notebook users, it could reduce the time to load an OS from storage devices like hard drives. The ferroelectric material could also retain data in case power is lost.
The research itself revolves around building ferroelectric transistors, which are capable of retaining data in any electric state, onto hybrid transistors.
The researchers took strontium titanate, a variant of the ferroelectric material used in smartcards, and deposited it on silicon, putting it in a state where it could retain information even when power is off. The new findings cut the intervening layers that made it difficult to put the material on silicon.
Typically when power is turned off, voltages disappear from transistors, which have to be recreated when power is turned on. To recreate them, the relevant information is loaded from nonvolatile storage mediums like hard drives, which takes time. The ferroelectric transistors retain magnetization when the electric field is turned off, allowing it to retain data.
The technology will load operating systems differently from existing memory technologies like DRAM and storage technologies like hard drives and solid-state drives, Schlom said. Ferroelectric transistors conceptually differ in the way data is loaded and retained, Schlom said.
Benefits of ferroelectric transistors were first realized in 1955 by scientists at Bell Labs, Schlom said. Though the recent findings are a major step ahead, additional research is needed to build an actual ferroelectric transistor to make instant-on computing a reality, Schlom said.
He couldn’t provide a timeline for when such transistors would be built.
The researchers also include scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Motorola and Intel. The research is funded by the National Science Foundation and the US government.

QuickerTek Releases External Battery/Charger for MacBook Air Notebook

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, April 14th, 2009, 07:38
Category: Accessory, battery, MacBook Air

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Accessory provider QuickerTek announced the release of a new external battery/charger for Apple’s MacBook Air notebook on Tuesday. The external unit powers the pack while simultaneously charging the internal battery and QuickerTek has cited 12 to 16 hours of run time or about 6 to 10 extra hours of power. According to MacNN, the charger is also said to charge the internal battery in only three hours.
The unit measure 7″ x 3.5″ and is housed in a machined aluminum case with an anodized finish. QuickerTek claims the cells are capable of up to 1,000 full recharges.
The MacBook Air external batter can be purchased for US$349.95 but customers must also have a QuickerTek-modified MagSafe adapter, available for US$100. An existing MagSafe adapter can be converted for US$25.

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Another Bulging MacBook Pro Battery

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, September 5th, 2007, 00:27
Category: battery

Here’s another picture of a bulged MacBook Pro battery from PowerPage reader “Abe.”

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I called Apple on Monday and got a replacement with a pre-paid airbill for the return today. Zero problem with them on the phone. Once I told them what had happened he did not even ask any questions. Said a new one is on the way. That makes me think there have been many and that they’d rather keep it quiet. Anyway, these pics on the old and the replacement should give you an idea of how much it expanded. It measures more and a quarter of an inch of expansion right in the middle.

Three more pics after the jump…

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Flexible, Biodegradable Battery Technology Revealed

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Date: Tuesday, August 14th, 2007, 08:53
Category: battery

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As much as you convince yourself that you’re living in the future, or at least a pretty sophisticated present, the batteries say otherwise. Open up an iPhone or MacBook and you’re greeted by a fairly large battery that occupies space and adds to the device’s weight.
This may be about to change, as new research is suggesting that carbon nanotube technologies may be the key to implementing flexible batteries and supercapacitors capable of shrinking down devices even further.
According to Ars Technica, researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnica Institute and MIT have developed a new material that can eliminate several of the old constraints within a battery, especially where the need to create two electrode layers and two charge-holding layers with an insulating layer in the middle and the lack of flexibility this historically provides.
Click the jump for the full story…

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FreshBattery Introduces “Legacy” Battery Line

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Date: Wednesday, August 8th, 2007, 08:15
Category: battery

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On Tuesday, FreshBattery announced a new Legacy line of batteries. The units are designed to provide batteries for laptop models that have been discontinued for three to five years, including older PowerBooks and iBooks.
According to Macworld News, the company claims that the batteries are designed to meet or exceed the original manufacturer’s specifications. In the case of a Legacy battery for an original PowerBook G4, FreshBattery has substituted the original 3600 mAH cells with 4400 mAH cells, resulting in a battery that adds an additional 40 minutes of run time between charges.
FreshBattery currently produces a battery range that covers the original “Clamshell” iBook G3s and goes back as far as the Wall Street and Pismo-era G3 PowerBooks. The Legacy battery line is currently priced under US$100 and available immediately.
If you have any thoughts or feedback about this or your laptop’s battery, let us know in the comments or forums.

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Suit Filed Against Apple and Sony Regarding Battery Burn

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Date: Thursday, July 26th, 2007, 07:52
Category: battery

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As much as you may like your Mac laptop, things will occasionally go wrong. A Japanese couple living in Tokyo are filing suit against Apple and Sony regarding a PowerBook G4 battery that burst into flames in April of 2006.
According to the International Herald Tribune, the couple is suing for “over” two million Yen (about US$16,700) in damages. The suit alleges that the man suffered burns to his finger while using the laptop an his wife endured mental distress due to the incident.
The battery comes from a batch of more than 10-million Sony-made notebook batteries that were recalled in 2006. Sony has stated that battery problems were caused by microscopic metal particles insider the battery that caused the unit to short circuit.
Since the recall, Sony has stated that it will improve battery design, production and inspection methods to prevent a recurrence of fires in their batteries.
If you have any thoughts about this or have seen something similar on your end, let us know over in the forums.

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Getting The Most Out of Your Laptop Battery

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Date: Monday, February 12th, 2007, 09:06
Category: battery

Anyone who has purchased an Apple laptop knows that the battery life is significant. I specifically remember getting four hours of life (full screen brightness) with my first G4 Powerbook. As time advances, the battery, processor, and electronic technology grows; and with it comes the ability to produce a portable that is more efficient and energy conservative, yet still has the performance that consumers require.

As time with your laptop advances however, the battery on your system may begin to lose its charging capabilities. What was once four hours of life, turns into three and a half, then to two and a half, and so on and so on. Throughout your system life, the greater portion of the time you will never use your laptop until the battery is empty. More or less you will use it for a little, then plug it back in, take it off, plug in again and so forth. The process of doing this can miss-calibrate the battery to the point where it will not allow maximum storage capability and lower your battery life.

Getting The Most Out Of Your Laptop Battery – Macinhack

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An Additional Reason to Exchange Your MBP Battery

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Date: Monday, December 4th, 2006, 07:16
Category: battery

MacMerc.com has a full story and updated picture (via way of flickr) of a MacBook Pro battery swelling far beyond any size it should have originally been.
The battery is a model A1175 that should have been exchanged when Apple began its program in response to overheating and swelling found in the MacBook Pro battery series earlier this year.
Apple states that there’s no physical danger from using the swollen batteries and it’s still safe to use the batteries until a replacement unit arrives from the company.
If you have any further information or comments about this issue, let us know.

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