The Sony laptop battery fiasco of 2006 is stepping into
2007, as Acer has announced
a recall of certain notebook computer lithium-ion batteries containing
Sony-made cells. About 27,000 cells are affected, and Acer is recommending that
applicable consumers should only use the notebook computer using AC power until
a replacement battery pack is received.
Laptops containing the affected batteries are in the
TravelMate and Aspire series with model numbers starting with 242, 320, 321,
330, 422, 467, 561, C20, 556, 560, 567, 930, 941 and 980. These laptops were
sold in the U.S. and Canada between May 2004 and November 2006. A special Web site has been set up
for owners of Acer laptops to compare their serial numbers with those in the
Over 10 million lithium ion laptop batteries have been
recalled worldwide since last year. A long list of computer manufacturers has
felt the effects of the defective batteries, including Sony, Dell, Apple, Lenovo and Toshiba.
In the interest and concern of consumers, the IEEE announced
last November that it will revise its laptop battery
standards to improve overall performance while make systems more
reliable. Meanwhile, battery engineers are hard at work to develop new,
safer battery technologies. Panasonic is now producing laptops with an improved
lithium ion battery
technology that safeguards against overheating.
“When any supplier has a problem, it creates concern for the
technology itself. The challenge that we must meet is to reassure the public
that Lithium-ion batteries are safe,” said Michael Buckner, senior manager for
Panasonic's Energy Solutions Lab, in an interview with DailyTech. “Safety has always been
the number one priority at Panasonic. The incidents last year just reconfirmed
that we need to maintain safety first in our designs.”
Sony may be looking to an alternate form of
lithium-based battery technology, called lithium polymer, which it claims
to be safer and more powerful than lithium ion. “There is not too much more
power we want to cram into lithium ion,” said Sony Electronics president Stan
Glasgow, adding that he believes that the next big battery technology
will be lithium polymer-based.
While nearly all notebook computers on the market today use
lithium, Apple started
shipping lithium polymer batteries with several of its MacBooks as of late
October. Lithium polymer batteries are already being widely used today in some
newer models of PDAs and cell phones.