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Sony’s new LiFePO4 (olivine-type lithium iron phosphate) batteries have a high power density (1800W/kg), a life span of around 2,000 charge-discharge cycles, an “excellent” shelf life, and can charge to 99% capacity in 30 minutes. Sony first supplied the new batteries in June 2009 for use in power tools, but their capabilities open up many other applications, including electric vehicles.

Patented by the University of Texas’ Dr. John Goodenough in 1996, LiFePO4 has a cell structure that remains stable in temperatures as high as 300°-500° Celsius. The batteries have a nominal cell voltage of 3.2V, a 1.1Ah capacity, and a 20A maximum continuous discharge current — so you don’t want to accidentally short these, or things might get hot in a hurry.

Sony [Manufacturer’s Site]
EE Times [Source]

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8 Responses to Sony’s New Tool Battery

  1. jerry says:

    Dr. John Goodenough, huh? How could we ever say that these batteries were not “good enough”?

  2. Nate says:

    Same chemistry as in the A123 batteries, which are at the core of the (discontinued) Black and Decker VPX packs, and DeWalt’s 36v lithium packs.

    Shorting one of these would get hot in a hurry, which may or may not start a fire. But the cell itself isn’t likely to detonate, which is what any other lithium chemistry would do! The fast charge and discharge capability comes at a price, which is power density (watt-hours per liter or per kilogram).

    The fast charge rate is what makes these so ideal for tools and vehicles, and it’s a crying shame that B&D bundled that junky slow-charger with the VPX system. Let’s hope that future integrators use these cells to their full potential!

  3. Brau says:

    “their capabilities open up many other applications, including electric vehicles.”

    Ahh, I love how companies like to leverage vain “possibilities” as though their new product might save the world. Any assertion that battery operated electric vehicles are truly feasible in the near future or “green” is pure deception.

    As it stand now, a 300 pound bank of Li-ion batteries stores approximately 6-10% of the energy stored in one tank of gas. A gas vehicle can be refueled immediately but the electric? Well you’re gonna have to wait a looong time before making the next trip – 8 hours @ 220V or 16 hrs @ 110V (IE: The Tesla). Want to use a solar panel? – could take up to nine months of sunny days to get a full charge. A wind turbine? Six months if the wind blows 24/7. With power plants being stressed all over the world, where’s the electricity going to come from? Shall we dam up all the rivers or build hundreds of nuke plants? Is tossing out 300 LBS of batteries every few years really environmentally better than recycling one metal engine every 10-20 years?

    Love my battery powered tools and I welcome improvements, but I don’t kid myself, batteries are not green nor an efficient energy storage medium. My old push drill, brace, and handsaw … now they’re green.

  4. Eric says:

    As it stand now, a 300 pound bank of Li-ion batteries stores approximately 6-10% of the energy stored in one tank of gas.

    You’re comparing apples to oranges. That’s like saying this tanker truck can hold 10,000 gallons of fuel oil, so it’s therefore more efficient than your pickup, which only holds 15 gallons of gas. Also ignores the inefficiency in the internal combustion engine, which is about 20%, on a good day. The wind turbine/solar thing is just silly. What size panel? What size turbine?

    That’s not to say electric is without it’s problem. Refueling is certainly an issue, but swappable battery packs would avoid that. Range is also certainly an issue, but most people don’t need the 300 mile range that a standard car provides.

    Is tossing out 300 LBS of batteries every few years really environmentally better than recycling one metal engine every 10-20 years?

    You’re confusing the motor with the fuel with the fuel tank. The engine doesn’t have anything to do with the equation. It’s all the fuel that you burn.

  5. DB says:

    How cares about “Green” its all BS… Just a way for Gore ,Obama, and others to push their agenda and make $. So make Li batteries, burn fuels (coal, oil, etc..) what ever floats your boat, and let the next generation deal with it. That’s how we roll, and have rolled.

  6. paganwonder says:

    Yeah, kids today have it too easy- we need to punch more holes in their boat so they learn proper!

  7. fred says:

    What Eric says may ultimately prove to be viable – and some follks are betting that battery switching – with off-line charging is the way to go. The idea is to decouple the charging from the driving – and do the charging off-peak and/or when wind or other renewable power resources are available. Who knows if this will be economic – but here’s one comapny that is working to promote this idea:

    http://www.betterplace.com/

  8. Ted says:

    1800W/kg — Shouldn’t that be watt-hours/kg or something?

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