CORONADO, CALIF. — Battery developers envision polymers as a way to form power sources in different shapes. Generally, a laptop computer uses a lithium ion battery, but lithium ion polymer and lithium polymer variations are beginning to emerge. Most of the proprietary concepts are working through experimental and market-introduction phases.
PolyStor Corp. of Livermore, Calif., plans to add a curved lithium ion polymer battery cell to its product line in late 2000. SelfCharge Inc. of Redmond, Wash., has worked with PolyStor on the product's development and marketing issues.
Two potential corporate users are assessing the flexible product's feasibility now, David Nierescher, chief technical officer for SelfCharge, said in an interview at the firm's exhibit at the Portable Design 2000 show in Coronado. Cellular telephones, portable data collection equipment and personal digital assistants are target applications.
The battery is "formed to whatever shape a packaging person may require," he said. PolyStor will wind a polymer between anodes and cathodes and eliminate the requirement for a battery can. Seven alternating layers of polymer and aluminum foil form the outer vacuum-sealed pouch.
Electrofuel Inc. of Toronto is manufacturing a rechargeable lithium ion super polymer battery that has greater energy density than a typical lithium ion polymer battery, according to Japan's Nomura Research. In October, an industry conference and consulting firm, Arthur D. Little Inc., presented Electrofuel with a components award for its PowerPad 160, a battery pack that incorporates the density and can deliver 15 hours of run time for a notebook computer.
Battery Engineering Inc. of Canton, Mass., has a line of rechargeable lithium ion polymer batteries in a flexible and thin prismatic package.
A proprietary solid polymer electrolyte is used in the battery, which is available in customized sizes. Battery Engineering is a subsidiary of Hitachi Maxell Ltd.
Meanwhile in Japan, a Sanyo Electric Co. Ltd. unit is producing thin lithium polymer batteries with aluminum alloy exteriors, initially for Japan's cellular phone market, at a rate of 50,000 cells per month.
A ramp-up aims to hit 400,000 cells per month during 2000's second quarter. No schedule was available for when the Sanyo technology will enter the United States.