A New Smartphone Battery That Lasts Twice as Long is Set to Hit the Market Next Year

August 25, 2016 | Kelly Tatera

SolidEnergy smartphone battery
Photo credit: Screenshot from SolidEnergy video

Even sooner, the batteries will be used to power drones and provide free Internet to the developing world. 

An energy startup, called SolidEnergy Systems, has created a new battery that has twice the energy capacity of the regular lithium ion batteries used in our devices today.

"With two-times the energy density, we can make a battery half the size, but that still lasts the same amount of time, as a lithium ion battery," Qichao Hu Hu, CEO of SolidEnergy, told MIT News. "Or we can make a battery the same size as a lithium ion battery, but now it will last twice as long."

For a little battery background, an anode is the electrode used in most rechargeable devices, through which the electrical current flows. In the new battery, the researchers swapped out graphite — a common anode material — with an extremely thin, high-energy lithium-metal foil. This foil can hold more ions, which provides the battery with more energy capacity.

Demonstrating the battery’s capacity in an iPhone 6, the team showed that the new battery would be half the size of the current lithium ion batteries used in the iPhone 6, but it would offer a stronger electric current — 2.0 amp-hours (unit of electric current time) instead of the iPhone battery’s 1.8 amp-hours.

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According to MIT News’ Rob Matheson, SolidEnergy has plans to bring the batteries to smartphones and wearable devices in early 2017, but even sooner than that, the company plans to roll the batteries out for drones in November of this year.

“Several customers are using drones and balloons to provide free Internet to the developing world, and to survey for disaster relief,” Hu says. “It’s a very exciting and noble application.”

In 2018, SolidEnergy plans to bring the batteries to electric cars.

“Industry standard is that electric vehicles need to go at least 200 miles on a single charge,” Hu explains. “We can make the battery half the size and half the weight, and it will travel the same distance, or we can make it the same size and same weight, and now it will go 400 miles on a single charge.”

Hu believes the batteries could have “a huge societal impact.”

Check out SolidEnergy’s video below:

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