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Industry Report

Industry reports, briefs and video-clips issued by Samsung Economic Research Institute

Breakthrough Battery Technologies

Breakthrough Battery Technologies

PARK Sung-Bae

May 19, 2009


Welcome to our video program. I'm Sung-Bae Park from the Technology and Industry Department.

Batteries are the source of power to many electronic goods. Advancements in battery technology, however, have lagged technological advancements in other industries in recent decades. Lately, there have been some noticeable developments in battery technology which can bring fundamental changes to the way we lead our lives. Today, we will take a look at three recent technologies which will revamp batteries.

First, there is fast-charging battery technology. Recently, Toshiba unveiled its fast- charging lithium-ion battery, the “SCiB,” which can be charged fully in just 10 minutes. This is a real breakthrough in batteries in comparison to the two to three hours normally required in existing chargers.

The key feature of SCiB batteries is that lithium titanate is used as a negative-electrode material. Since lithium titanate does not create a layer that blocks the movement of electrons, it can enhance the speed of recharging and discharging. Thanks to less electronic resistance around the electrodes, SCiB batteries do not suffer from overheating problems, enjoying a longer lifetime. Recently, car and parts makers are trying to utilize SCiB technology in developing batteries for hybrid cars. Toshiba is ahead of its competitors and has already succeeded in producing a prototype on the back of its accumulated know-how in materials technology.

Second, is Intel's WREL technology, a wireless energy transfer technology. This technology relies on the principle that resonance created by tuning the natural frequency of a transmitting resonator to that of receiving resonator helps to absorb energy more efficiently. Currently Intel has succeeded in powering a 60W light bulb with a transmitting resonator from a distance of about 60 to 90cm from a receiving resonator. Considering that a laptop PC normally consumes less than 60W of electricity unless there is high workload on the laptop, it is just a matter of time before cordless electronic goods will become available.

There are a few problems to be tackled before commercialization of this technology; reducing the size of the wireless transceiver system, increasing the transmitted electricity amount and preventing security problems.

Lastly, there is kinetic energy in batteries. The most representative example of this is NTT's power generating shoes. NTT's shoes utilize shifting pressure from human motion when walking. A turbine in each shoe generates electricity with each step. The current power output of the shoes is 1.2W but the company is striving to increase its power output up to 2.5W, enough to power a music player embedded in a mobile phone. M2E, an American company, also developed technology which converts kinetic energy from minor movement into an electrical charge. The M2E charger uses small movement in a bag for generating an electrical charge. You can charge your cellphone by simply carrying your M2E charger around. A six-hour walk can charge a cell phone battery for one-hour of use. The task ahead for this technology is transferring electric charges to portable devices without loss.

Thus far, we have looked at fast-evolving battery technologies. High-speed charging batteries, cordless batteries and batteries utilizing kinetic energy in shoes and bags will bring a new perception that batteries are not an accessory but a core component. In the near future, power systems can be ubiquitous, and move far beyond the traditional wall socket.

Thank you for watching. I'm Sung-Bae Park.

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