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Apple looking to increase battery life with dense lithium battery cells

post #1 of 58
Thread Starter 
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 and discovered by AppleInsider. 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.

Apple's proposed invention revealed this week 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.
post #2 of 58
You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..
post #3 of 58
I don't know enough to be able to evaluate the significance of this, but on the face of it I find it very interesting that Apple is doing R&D into battery technology rather than just relying on the battery producers to do it.
post #4 of 58
One of the ways to the future is the improvement of battery technology. More power, longer life and smaller size... Apple always seems to be working on the stuff of the future. I would say that I hope this bears fruit, but with most things like this Apple is way ahead, and this technology is probably very close to market. Anyway, its nice to see they are hard at work.
post #5 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..

Yeah... but wouldn't you like a MBP that weighs less?
post #6 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..

With the new technology Apple can make a smaller battery last the same 8 hours.... Smaller, lighter, thinner. That is the objective for apples products.
post #7 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..

With $60billion to spend I'd have to disagree, until battery life is >1week
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post #8 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..

I would disagree, the long term implications of smaller and longer lasting battery technology reaches far beyond the computer industry, think electric cars. This could be a whole other revenue source for apple.
post #9 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..

Battery capacity has always been holding mobile electronics back. With better batteries, the MBP could be faster, smaller and/or lighter. Then there's smartphones...

I can't think of a better area to research.
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post #10 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..

How dare Apple spend R&D money on R&D. I mean they make one product that gets acceptable battery duration for me and that's all that counts. I don't care that they also make smaller devices like the Macbook Air, the iPod touch, the iPhone or even a rumored smaller iPhone that would really benefit from this sort of technological improvement.

Those bastards.
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post #11 of 58
The patent trolls awaken...
post #12 of 58
Hey, what ever happened to those fuel cell laptop batteries? Bwahahahaha!

Seriously, for good or bad, there is nothing like hydrocarbons for energy density/transportation. Battery tech(for now) will be a slow incremental process of improvement.

May I suggest this article regarding 'tech breakthoughs or lack there of'. Food for thought.

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/ic...gy_Summary.pdf
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post #13 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..

I think this is more for the iPhone and MacBook Air.
post #14 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by oseame View Post

With $60billion to spend I'd have to disagree, until battery life is >1week

That would be cool. I could go on vacation and leave my charger at home.
post #15 of 58
Apple is trying to create/enhance technologies so that others cannot even come close to duplicating Apple's products.

Think MagSafe connector.
Think LiquidMetal, this battery R&D.
post #16 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mynameisjoe View Post

That would be cool. I could go on vacation and leave my charger at home.

I'd rather have the life-time battery that they used in Small Soldiers.
post #17 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by mac23456 View Post

I would disagree, the long term implications of smaller and longer lasting battery technology reaches far beyond the computer industry, think electric cars. This could be a whole other revenue source for apple.

Oh lord, I can't wait until the power companies all must give Apple 30% for the ability to sell us power to charge our cars.
post #18 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post

Oh lord, I can't wait until the power companies all must give Apple 30% for the ability to sell us power to charge our cars.

That's only if the charging is being done via the App Store


How much of an increase is this over the current batteries? If they can have the same size battery and get 12 or 16 hours of life, I can see them doing just that. Look at all the PC laptops (cue cries that Apples are PCs) that try and compete with the MBP and get all of a couple of hours of battery life. This could put Apple's products even farther ahead, not to mention that they could use a smaller battery in the iPad if they wanted to make it lighter and keep about the same battery life. The MBA could only benefit from this as well.
post #19 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I don't know enough to be able to evaluate the significance of this, but on the face of it I find it very interesting that Apple is doing R&D into battery technology rather than just relying on the battery producers to do it.

Yeah, that's the funny thing about people's attitude towards Apple in general, most people think Apple just uses off the shelf generic parts in their products. The fact is, a lot of the components used, Apple had a hand in designing and manufacturing. Apple works with OEMs to ensure those parts meet Apple's specifications.

Apple also invests a lot in manufacturing processes, techniques and materials, even though they aren't a manufacturing company.
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post #20 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by AIaddict View Post

Oh lord, I can't wait until the power companies all must give Apple 30% for the ability to sell us power to charge our cars.

And that ^, everyone, is how a troll responds to an article on improving battery life.
post #21 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I don't know enough to be able to evaluate the significance of this, but on the face of it I find it very interesting that Apple is doing R&D into battery technology rather than just relying on the battery producers to do it.

I think the a more proper observation would be Apple doing the R&D for essentially everyone else.

Expect competitors to coincidentally adopt the new batteries after Apple perfects it.
post #22 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..

http://theoatmeal.com/comics/misspelling
post #23 of 58
[QUOTE=....

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.

...QUOTE]

Has this always been the case for Lithium batteries, don't remember seeing that mentioned before...
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post #24 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I don't know enough to be able to evaluate the significance of this, but on the face of it I find it very interesting that Apple is doing R&D into battery technology rather than just relying on the battery producers to do it.

I had a Macbook Pro with a battery designed and built by a battery producer. The battery failed in a few months, was replaced, and failed again. First battery swelled up, splitting open and nearly catching on fire. Second battery was down to 50% life after 30 charge cycles, however I wasn't using it enough and was in the middle of a major depression and failed to get it replaced under warranty. Frankly because my laptop sits in its case for weeks on end, I ought to just sell the whole piece of crap for an iPad.
post #25 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by anonymouse View Post

And that ^, everyone, is how a troll responds to an article on improving battery life.

And that ^, everyone, is how a robot without any sense of humour responds to a sarcastic joke.
post #26 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

I don't know enough to be able to evaluate the significance of this, but on the face of it I find it very interesting that Apple is doing R&D into battery technology rather than just relying on the battery producers to do it.

I think eventually Apple will be facing off against the patents and innovations already owned by automotive companies, not just battery companies. Keep pushing, Apple! We'll be driving Apple iCars yet!

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post #27 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..

I think their time and money is being spent very well on this. This should not change the current critical path for most projects but an increase in power requirements would move this into the critical path so in order to be prepared and improve now is the time.

Just out of curiosity when would you suggest Apple press forward on this?

Lighter is better, in this case smaller is also better. The combination add up to the opportunity to reduce the weight of devices, increase the battery life, or have room for something else. Typically faster processors (more cores, etc...) require more juice - I for one like to keep things snappy.

IMHO this is an excellent use of resources and I say good on ya, keep on truckin'.
post #28 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by boeyc15 View Post

Hey, what ever happened to those fuel cell laptop batteries? Bwahahahaha!

Seriously, for good or bad, there is nothing like hydrocarbons for energy density/transportation. Battery tech(for now) will be a slow incremental process of improvement.

May I suggest this article regarding 'tech breakthoughs or lack there of'. Food for thought.

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/docs/ic...gy_Summary.pdf

If you want to solve the energy problems of this country, just provide the right incentives for Apple's engineers... and a cranky Steve Jobs.

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post #29 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Blastdoor View Post

Yeah... but wouldn't you like a MBP that weighs less?

Does smaller = lighter?
post #30 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by davebarnes View Post

Apple is trying to create/enhance technologies so that others cannot even come close to duplicating Apple's products.

Think MagSafe connector.
Think LiquidMetal, this battery R&D.

I believe you nailed when you said, and I quote "Think..."
post #31 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by vjo,npd View Post

You would think there time and money could be better spent elsewhere right now... the current MBP already last 8 hours or so..

I suspect they have battery people working on this...so if they aren't working on battery research, they're face down in a gutter in downtown SF...so don't worry this isn't taking resources away from other things.
post #32 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

Does smaller = lighter?

Not always, but in this case the only density I see changing is in the amount of charge the device can take by using a more sophisticated regulation of voltage. Even if a new material were used it is hard for me to imagine that the amount of energy they are able to pack into this device would be overcome by the mass densities of the materials used.

Maybe packing that many more electrons in the device does weigh a bunch more than I initially thought though?


-------------------

I looked up the mass (rest) of an electron out of curiosity:
Mass of electron: 9.10938 * 10-31 kg
which is approx. 1/1900th of a proton - for those that want to work it out for extra credit.
post #33 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by davebarnes View Post

Apple is trying to create/enhance technologies so that others cannot even come close to duplicating Apple's products.

Think MagSafe connector.
Think LiquidMetal, this battery R&D.

So far no one can create any notebook with the build quality of a unibody macbook.
And magsafe is still the most advanced power connector on the market.

They are already way ahead of the competition, but it's good to know that they are always looking for something to improve on.
post #34 of 58
And I would like Apple to have a small backup battery (20 minutes?) in all of their products, including desktop and monitors.

The occasional power outage, however infrequent, can ruin the day.
post #35 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Damn_Its_Hot View Post

Maybe packing that many more electrons in the device does weigh a bunch more than I initially thought though?

An electron only weighs 5.4857990943(23)×10−4 u
post #36 of 58
Quote:
"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.

I'm not how important the size of a battery 'sell' is, but the size of the Cell could be important?
post #37 of 58
[QUOTE=Bigc;1810605]
Quote:
Originally Posted by ....

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.

...QUOTE



Has this always been the case for Lithium batteries, don't remember seeing that mentioned before...

All chemical batteries have specific charge regimes and engineers must balance cost, ease-of-use, battery performance, battery life, etc...

Lithium batteries have always required careful charging. This patent describes an even more careful and precise charging method. It is not a battery breakthrough per se. The great run-times for macbook-pro is thanks to highly optimized charge/discharge algorithms. This continues along those lines. Implementing such charging circuitry isn't cheap, but increasingly necessary as expectations increase and mobile devices are becoming for many people, essentials instead of gadgets.
post #38 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by soward View Post

I'm not how important the size of a battery 'sell' is, but the size of the Cell could be important?

Might want to check your own grammar when posting a correction of another person's grammar/word use. It is however funny that they used the word sell when obviously meaning cell - and probably should have left it out all together.
post #39 of 58
I do see a problem that will be caused by this. That is, a problem that will result from this, and one other thing that we've all heard about.

Remember the agreement forced by the EU over the mobile charger "problem"? The agreement that forces manufacturers to not include a charger with their new cell phones, and perhaps digital media players? The one that requires a one size fits all charger over a USB connector?

Well, these batteries and their required charger are very different to what is being used now. How will Apple convince the stupid EU that they need their own charger to recharge the phones and iPod Touches that have these new, higher power, longer lasting batteries? Can they?
post #40 of 58
Quote:
Originally Posted by Cpsro View Post

Does smaller = lighter?

I'm not a chemist, but the patent states that they want to increase both volumetric (space) density and gravimetric (weight) density. So, for the same amount of space and weight, you get more energy. Or, the same amount of energy in a smaller, lighter package.
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