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Monday, October 8, 2007

ZPower Pushes Silver-Zinc Batteries as Alternative to Lithium-Ion

" Longer Battery Life course make more comfortable and more mobile. Now ZPower making battery just like we want a longer life battery."
ZPower promises 30 percent greater power density than lithium-ion cells

When it comes to mobile devices, battery life is paramount. Whether it’s a mobile phone, laptop or MP3 player; long battery life is an oft-requested feature by consumers.

Most of today's battery-powered devices make use of lithium-ion batteries which come with their own set of problems. As witnessed by the massive recalls last year of Sony-manufactured batteries, lithium-ion batteries can sometimes present a safety hazard.

ZPower's prototype silver-zinc notebook battery pack (Source: DailyTech, Brandon Hill)

Auto giant Toyota even shunned lithium-ion batteries for its next generation Prius. The company again cited safety concerns with the decision to stick with nickel-metal hydride batteries. Having a notebook catch fire due to faulty batteries is one thing, but having a $23,000 Prius rolling down the street on fire presents its own set of safety and legal challenges.

ZPower is looking to supplant lithium-ion technology with a battery chemistry that is safer and has improved energy output. The company had its new batteries on display this week at the Intel Developer Forum.

The ZPower batteries have an energy density that is 30 percent higher than that of lithium-ion batteries. According to ZPower president and CEO Ross Dueber, the batteries can even be safely overcharged to allow for additional runtime.

ZPower batteries are composed of a composite polymer zinc anode, layered separator and a nano-particle silver cathode. Since the cells used in ZPower's batteries are water-based, they are as safe to use as traditional alkaline batteries.

The zinc and silver used in the batteries are also 95 percent recyclable. ZPower will have a program in place in which customers can recycle their used batteries and get reimbursed for the value of the silver and zinc recovered. Customers will receive a check or receive credit towards the purchase of new cells according to Dueber.

All is not well, however, with ZPower's batteries. Pre-production batteries are only good for about 100 cycles compared to around 300 cycles for lithium-ion batteries. ZPower hopes to increase this figure to 200 cycles by mid-2008 and to 300+ cycles by 2010.

Due to the difference in voltage and battery chemistry of silver-zinc batteries, they are not at their most efficient when used in existing lithium-ion based devices. In other words, ZPower's batteries would be best suited for newly designed notebooks, mobile phones, etc. which can better cope with silver-zinc battery characteristics.

There is also no pricing information available for ZPower’s batteries in relation to traditional lithium-ion counterparts. And then there’s the issue of market adoption of silver-zinc batteries. As of now, ZPower only has one major OEM onboard to use its battery technology in notebooks, but Dueber declined to name the company.

Taken From DailyTech


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