Archive for June, 2010

 
25 06/10

Lithium ion batteries in China

China’s domestic lithium-ion battery market consists of five main products, segmented by cathode chemistry.

These are Lithium- Cobalt, Lithium-Magnesium, Lithium-Iron Phosphate, Lithium-Ion Polymer, and Lithium-Nickel Cobalt Manganese Oxide. This target market is valued at approximately RMB 10.7 Bn as of year end 2009, growing by around 13% in that year. The market is expected grow by a CAGR of 17% through 2015 – with some variation by product.

Marginal growth in the market had slowed over 2009 on the slump in the export market (batteries are sold to exporters), experiencing an estimated 1-2% drop in growth from year end 2008. However China’s domestic recovery is expected to bring a return to these growth rates within the next 18 months.

Around 95% of all revenues in the domestic market are reported by domestic companies. Among these, the market leaders are BAK, BYD and Henan Huanyu.

End-user Applications. Lithium-ion batteries are predominately used in mobile phones, laptops and electric tools. Recently, markets for digital products and electric bikes have become prominent. The market for electric cars is currently half the size of the average of other markets, but is anecdotally expected to grow considerably in the near term.

Export Market. Over 80% of suppliers in China export and exports are estimated at around 55% of total Li-ion battery revenues. The export market has declined considerably since the global economic slowdown of 2008-2010. This applies both to direct sales of Li-ion batteries and to products powered by Li-ion that are exported. Suppliers are adjusting to the prospect of a larger domestic market. To this end, R&D for electric vehicles, particularly bikes is underway.

Channel players. Channel players do not play a large role in this market, with around 5% of sales revenues derived from distributor or agent sales. OEMs play a more significant role in the market, accounting for around 75% of all sales. This group is classed as customer for this study.

Pricing. Most suppliers in this market expect prices to fall by up to 5% in the near future. This is mainly due to spare productive capacity and the increasing of productive scale, and more suppliers are entering the market. It is believed that Li-FePO4 will decline from its current price of RMB 11 due to greater commercialization.

Entry is feasible for a supplier with a technological solution to the above demand trends. The automotive market is particularly receptive to a solution with the density of Li-ion, the cost of lead-acid and the safety of NiMH. Lithium chloride supply is problematic as a major supplier is also the raw material producer. Competing on scale is a key challenge for entrants.

Raw Materials Costs. Lithium is a net imported commodity in China and its supply ownership is highly concentrated. Main deposits are found in South America and Australia. Bolivia, which has nationalized some of its mines, is the largest source of lithium and may cease to use the market pricing mechanism.

Regulators determine the standardization of batteries, which is based on ISO standards, and the products they power. Deregulation of electric bikes has seen a potentially large market for Li-ion created. Rules to incentivize greater battery adoption in road use is planned and is expected to be influential.

14 06/10

Cambridge scientists solve mystery of flammable laptop batteries

Researchers at Cambridge University believe metal fibres, known as dendrites, are one of the main reasons why lithium batteries in phones, laptops and other devices overheat and catch fire.

There have been several high-profile stories in recent years of iPods, laptop computers and phones spontaneously combusting, sometimes when they’re in the owner’s pocket or handbag, or when left unattended at home.

Batteries in laptops and phones are designed to charge quickly, but this can cause dendrites to form on the battery’s carbon anodes, said the team of scientists. These fibres are one of the main causes of short circuits, which can, in turn, cause batteries to overheat and even catch fire.

Now, the team is hoping to get a better understanding of how dendrites form, and how their development can be halted, but using nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy to trace their development. It is hoped that this information will help consumer electronics manufacturers improve the safety of lithium batteries.

“These dead lithium fibres have been a significant impediment to the commercialisation of new generations of higher capacity batteries,” Professor Clare Grey, one of the researchers from Cambridge University’s chemistry department, told the BBC.

“Fire safety must be solved before we can get to the next generation of lithium-ion batteries and before we can safely use these batteries in a wider range of transport applications. Now that we can monitor dendrite formation inside batteries, we can identify when they are formed and under what conditions.

“Our new method should allow researchers to identify which conditions lead to dendrite formation and to rapidly screen potential fixes to prevent the problem.”

10 06/10

International Battery Rounds Up $35 Million for Lithium Ion Battery Development

It wasn’t all that long ago that International Battery was proudly announcing a deal with NASA that included providing a battery prototype that will serve as backup power in support of the space shuttle program. Just months after such a significant transaction. International Battery is now announcing that raising $35 million in financing for its manufacturing, development and marketing operations.

International Battery’s proprietary large-format, prismatic lithium ion technology allows it to offer customers innovative battery system solutions. The Company’s products are used in a variety of stationary (including electric utility/smart grid), transportation and military applications. In addition, the company’s low-cost, water-based manufacturing process avoids the use of toxic solvents, which are standard in manufacturing today.

“This infusion of capital will allow International Battery to pursue its focused expansion goals, while continuing to provide its customers with the leading large-format lithium ion technology available in the market today,” said International Battery President and CEO Dr. Ake Almgren.

“International Battery’s investors and board are very pleased with its progress,” said Mark Mills, International Battery Chairman and co-founding partner of Digital Power Capital. “We continue to be impressed with the exceptional team led by Dr. Ake Almgren. And, we are confident that the market is now poised for enormous growth in high-value big energy storage systems where there are compelling benefits from the company’s unique, exceptionally large cell technology.”

While most lithium ion battery manufacturers have their eyes set on a much-anticipated boom in the electric-vehicle market, International Battery, for now anyway, remains focused on large format Li-ion batteries for smart grid and other up-scaled storage needs.

10 06/10

New MacBook to Feature 10-hr. Battery Life

The mere thought of 10 hr. battery life on a laptop will bring a smile to almost anyone’s face. Apple of course is well aware of this, which is why it has apparently created the latest version of their MacBook with the same lengthy amount of battery life as the recently released MacBook Pro.

Weird, but there it is, the leaked MacBook refresh is now official, on Tuesday, just as we thought. The 2.4GHz Core 2 Duo refresh with NVIDIA GeForce 320M graphics and longer 10-hour battery life (up from 7 hours) is sitting up, nice and pretty on Apple’s very own store in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Germany, and a few other sites. It’s still $999 making it a better deal for the moment than the similarly spec’d 13-inch MacBook Pro listing for $1,199. Expect it to go global shortly. A few more screengrabs after the break as Apple gets its house in order. (Engadget)

Apple is definitely not disappointing many people with this fresh bit of news.

07 06/10

10 Ways to Improve Your Laptop’s Battery Life

If you use your laptop on battery power, you’ll know how annyoing it is to lose battery power at the “worst time”. While I can’t guarantee your laptop will lose power at a more convenient time, I can offer ten ways to improve your laptop battery’s life. Learn, in this guide, how to save power when running on batteries. Skip to the end for a bonus energy efficiency tip.

Note: This guide is written for Windows 7 but most tips apply for Windows Vista.

10 Ways to Save Battery Power

Here’s 10 ways to save your laptop battery’s power:

1. Turn Down Screen Brightness

To turn down screen brightness, click the battery icon in the system tray and click Adjust screen brightness.

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Slide the brightness slider to the left until you can comfortably see the screen and it’s dimmest setting.

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2. Cut Down on Background Applications

Many background applications don’t need to run and only increase CPU cycles and, in turn, the demand on your battery. Here’s a couple of things you can do to cut down on background applications:

2a. Disable Windows Sidebar Gadgets

If you don’t use the sidebar, you probably have it disabled already (right click the Windows Sidebar icon in the system tray and click Exit.)

If you use the Windows Sidebar, do you really need all your gadgets running when you’re on battery power? To disable Windows Sidebar gadgets:

Click the Start button and click Control Panel. Type gadget in the top-right search box, and click View list of running gadgets.

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Next to the running gadgets, click remove.

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2b. Diable Startup applications

To disable uneccessary startup applications

3. Disable Your Wireless Internet & Bluetooth

If you’re not using the internet or Bluetooth, consider disabling the hardware to save battery power. To disable your wireless, bluetooth, or both cards, either:

A. Locate the switch on the side of your laptop (many laptops now have this) and turn your cards off.

or

B. Click the network icon in the system tray and click Open Network and Sharing Center.

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In the left-hand menu, click Change adapter settings.

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Right click your wireless connection and click Disable.

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Repeat for your Bluetooth device.

4. Disable Screensavers

Screensavers use CPU when your PC is idle. To disable your screensaver:

Right click the Desktop and click Personalize.

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Click Screen Saver.

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In the drop down list, select (None) and click OK.

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5. Change Power Options

You what your computer does to save power when idle. To do so, click the battery icon in the system tray and click More power options.

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Select Power saver and click Change plan settings.

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Lower the time it takes for your computer to dim the display, turn off the display, and sleep when on battery.

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Click Change advanced power settings to fine tune your power-saving preferences.

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6. Adjust Visual Effects

Visual effects also use CPU and memory and this drains your battery. To lower the effects and save battery power:

Click the Start button, click Control Panel, and type visual in the top-right search box. Click Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows.

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Select Adjust for best performance and click OK.

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7. Turn off Windows Aero

Windows Aero enables the glass effect you see on your Windows. This (surprise surprise) also uses CPU and memory and should be disabled to save battery. To disable Windows Aero:

Right click the desktop and click Personalization. Click Window Color.

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Uncheck Enable transparency and click OK.

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8. Disable the Search Index

The search index indexes your files for quick searching. This is a convenience but comes at a great cost to battery life when it’s running. To save power, consider disabling the search index. To disable the search index:

Click the Start button, click Control Panel, and type index in the top-right search box. Click Change how Windows searches.

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Click Modify.

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Remove all locations by unchecking them and click OK.

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9. Keep Your Laptop Cool

The hotter your laptop gets, the harder your fans have to work to keep it cool. To minimize the power drawn by your fans, keep your laptop cool. If using it on your laptop, ensure there is proper ventilation. Never use your laptop on a blanket or soft surface where airflow is restricted. This will also keep your laptop working longer as hardware is less likely to overheat and fail.

10. Only Use Your Screen When You Need it

This final tip links back to tip number 5. When in the power options, click Choose what closing the lid does. I always set the lid closing to do nothing and the power button to put the laptop to sleep. This way, when I’m taking a break, I can put my laptop lid down (which turns off the display and saves power) without my laptop going to sleep. I’m also lucky because my laptop has a Display button that, when pressed, turns off my display. I found this button very useful when I sat in class and didn’t need to use my laptop but didn’t want to close and open the lid repeatedly.

Bonus Tip

To get a power efficiency report:

  1. Click Start, type CMD, right click cmd.exe and click Run as Administrator.
  2. On the command line, type powercfg -energy to view a power efficiency report.
06 06/10

Toshiba Continues Push to Develop Batteries for Electric Vehicles

Electronics leader Toshiba is moving along with its plans to develop lithium-ion batteries for numerous automakers as demand for more environment-friendly cars grows.

With the demand for electronics companies to supply automakers battery systems for electronic and hybrid cars increasing rapidly, it’s expected that the current output of rechargeable batteries will increase five-fold over the next five years.

In response to increasing demand, Toshiba has also announced it will build a new plant in northern Japan, that will be used to produce their new Super Charge ion Battery from 2011.

Toshiba first announced their arrival into the lithium-ion battery for hybrid and all-electric vehicle market last year. Their goal is to make 3 million lithium-ion battery cells a month starting in 2010, with a sales goal of $2.2 billion for their batteries by the year 2015.