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Lithium-Ion batteries will still be the power source of choice for notebooks in the foreseeable future

There have been battery recalls announced in the past few months involving names such as Dell, Lenovo, Apple, Toshiba, Matsushita/Panasonic, and Fujitsu. The seemingly weekly recall announcements have had many industry watchers and consumers asking for alternatives to current battery technology. But for all the talk of exploding batteries and with recalled units now topping the 7 million, the industry will be sticking with lithium-ion batteries for the foreseeable future.

As shocking as the number of recalls may seem, there have still been fewer than 50 incidents involving the faulty batteries. Also, companies like Hewlett-Packard have yet to announce recalls for its Sony-manufactured batteries and has no plans to do so. The company is confident in the safety of its battery packs and lithium-ion batteries as a whole.

Quite frankly, there really is no credible alternative to lithium-ion technology at the moment. For all the talk of fuel cell technology, which Toshiba recently had on display, the infrastructure to make such technology viable for consumers is not yet in place. eWeek reports:

Moreover, although the recalls have sparked moves by some in the PC industry to increase the care with which lithium-ion cells are manufactured—one group is working to establish universal cell manufacturing standards, for example—there appear to be few lithium-ion alternatives on the horizon at the moment that don't involve trade-offs in energy density, cost or both. Some options, such as zinc-silver batteries, use entirely different chemistries, while others reformulate lithium-ion designs by introducing new materials. Numerous manufacturers are also designing fuel cells, which convert hydrogen into electricity. But none are without challenges, ensuring that in the absence of a dark horse replacement candidate, lithium-ion or some version of the chemistry is likely to power notebooks for years to come.

So while we may not see an alternative to lithium-ion technology take over in the near future, there are other ways to squeeze more run time out of notebooks. The Mobile PC Extended Battery Life (EBL) Working Group is collaborating to ensure that business notebooks will be able to operate for eight hours on a charge by the year 2008. The group is working to develop 72-watt hour batteries, 3-watt 14" and 15" XGA LCD panels and dramatically reduce power requirements in processor/chipset designs to achieve this goal.

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RE: 24-hr laptop
By ninjit on 10/9/2006 1:04:46 PM , Rating: 1
Actually the current grid can support charging lots of electric vehicles, it depends mostly on usage models and peoples habits.

Some service areas have lower power rates at night becuase that's when the grid is used less (businesses/factories are closed, etc.) Ideally this is when people would plug in and charge their cars (overnight, like you would a cellphone) and wake-up to a full battery-pack in the morning. Sure we'd still need a high-power draw quick-charge system for a pinch, but an 8-hr overnight charge cycle wouldn't be very demanding on the grid at all.

On a related note, have you guys heard of the Tesla electric vehicle?

It's designed around a lotus elise platform (british compact sports car for those of you who aren't familiar with it), and they contracted out with lotus to build the things too.

When I first read about them I was drooling.

The thing they are tooting their horn about most is the massive lithium-ion battery pack they designed, with safety features out the wazoo - Sony might learn a thing or too from them.

Also with regards electric vehicles and the environment - in addition to what's already been mentioned above about consolidating emissions to the power plants, electric vehicles are much much simpler than ICEs, fewer parts to break, basically one thing to lubricate, no need for oil changes or fancy cooling systems, etc.
These are not only environmental benefits, but also make life a lot easier for the consumer and manufacturer in general - much larger service intervals with reduced maintenance costs, easier trouble-shooting when a problem does occur. With fewer things to worry about, a car company can afford the time and cost to use better components and offer bettery warranties.

Personally, it's the way I think cars should have been made in the first place - just imagine what the world would be like now if we had gone the electric route from the getgo instead of pushing oil-based technology - we would have had a lot more development in battery-pack technologies and fuel-cells (since they produce electricity too).

Oh well, hopefully when I'm old enough/rich enough to actually consider an electric vehicle, they will be more ubiqutous.

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