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A123 Systems claims to have made a significant breakthrough in battery performance recently, allowing the storage of more power in a smaller place while drastically reducing minimum recharge times — and hopefully opening the door for some really effective plug-in hybrid cars.  But as Toolmonger, we’re looking at another application: power tools!

From A123 Systems’ website:

“Traditional li-ion technology uses active materials with particles that range in size between 5 and 20 microns.  These large particles are required to minimize safety risks inherent to first-generation li-ion chemistries.  A123 high power batteries are based on a safe and stable active material that can use particle sizes below 100 nanometers without adverse reaction.  This new storage electrode enables much faster kinetics prodviding higher power than is possible from any other li-ion chemistry.”

Sounds pretty exciting.  What’s really exciting, though, is the fact that GM recently announced their intention to use these batteries in vehciles — which means A123 should have the cash to push this concept through to completion.

And if that’s not exciting enough for you — imagine a cordless drill/driver significantly more powerful than existing high-end li-ion tools, but with a five minute recharge time.  Wow.

A123 Systems [Corporate Site] [via]


13 Responses to Tool Tech: Lithium-Ion’s Successor — Nanoscale Batteries

  1. Paul says:

    A real breakthrough in battery technology could be a very big deal for all of us indeed. Interesting! I am intrigued to learn more as this develops.

  2. Like every other holy-grail battery announcement of the last decade, this will be sweet if it pans out. But forgive my skepticism, as the odds simply aren’t good. All we know at this point is that they have a good PR firm, as approximately one battery company per year seems to.

    Even traditional lithium-ion chemistry is pretty volatile, when treated more-or-less properly, as Sony’s exploding laptop woes prove. The higher the energy density, the more potential for problems. That doesn’t mean big batteries can’t work, it just means we need to think about what’s in our tools and treat them appropriately. Never walk away from a battery when it’s charging, for instance. (I had a NiMH cell vent while charging a few weeks ago, it’s no fun!)

    Improvements will be made, some minor, some major. Some will never see the light of day. Only time will tell, so I remain cautiously optimistic.

    One thing’s for sure, though: My wallet’s not budging. Yet.

  3. I’m with Nate… I’ll believe these miracle announcements when I can hold them in my hand.

  4. bbot says:

    A123 batteries are already used in power tools. DeWalt’s 36v line uses them.

    http://www.dewalt.com/36v/ (click on “batteries and chargers)

    They’ve got three times the run time of the 18v batteries but the same weight, and charge in a hour.

    Seriously guys, keep up.

  5. Roger Davis says:

    Dewalt and A123 announced around 6 months ago an exclusive partnership to develop power tools using this technology. However, PR hype certainly overshot the mark. Read more here

    Note: I don’t work for Dewalt, A123 or SLK Electronics.

  6. nrChris says:

    You pay the price two-fold to be on the cutting edge of cordless technologies–the price is incredible at the beginning, and the technology always seems to mature more after it has been around for a while rather than fresh out of R&D. While this is exciting in abstract, lets look again in five years at what our tools have for power sources.

  7. Jeff T says:

    I am right there with Nate and the others.

    By the way… Where are the high-efficiency solar panels we’ve been promised for years?

  8. KillaCycle is an electric motorcylce that uses these to reach 150+mph.


  9. Gary says:

    there was a pretty intereting article about this company and it’s endeavors in Wired mag a little over a year ago. Been waiting patiently to see something materialize. Hopefully soon.

  10. ambush27 says:

    I’ve heard of these, and so far, I’m not that excited, heck, I’m not even that excited about Li-on batteries. Sure lithium batteries may have more potential, but as already pointed out, they’re extremely reactive, and NiMH batteries actually store more energy by volume, just not by weight.

  11. Chuck Cage says:

    bbot: The cells in DeWalt’s 36V line are made by A123, but aren’t the nanoscale type cells.

  12. Doug Korthof says:

    I’ve got the B&D 3/8″ 14.4v version (about $90 at Home Depot). So far, it works fine, with no problems except not as much power as NiCd versions. The sales person stated that the Makita Lithium drills were coming back, complaints about not holding a charge, but don’t know if that’s for real.

    I’m going to get the DeWalt 1/2″ version (36v) and try it out, but I’d like to know who makes the Li pack for the bigger drill, before buying it.

    Can this be the miracle battery? I’d stick with Nickel, cheaper and stronger, until the facts are in.

  13. joe says:

    A123 Systems makes the Lithium battery for Black and Decker, and for the professional grade of Black & Decker; DeWalt.

    For cutting edge solar, check out : Nanosolar. It’s awesome. A ‘solar roof’ on every home is getting very close to a reality.

    bbot has it right, everyone should just start learning about the A123 Systems technology more. GM is down to only two suppliers for the battery for the Volt, and one of them is A123 Systems. So………..thier technology has to have a lot going for it.

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