Frequent users of rechargeable batteries may want to take a look in Sony's direction, specifically at its latest raft of lithium ion cells which purport to offer significantly improved charging times and lifespan over their predecessors. Okay, batteries might not be as interesting as fuel cells but as we're likely to be using them for a fair while yet, so improvements are always welcome.
The ‘Cylindrical 18650' type batteries are outwardly no different from any others, delivering a 1.1Ah capacity, 3.2V and a maximum 20A continuous draw - in other words, anything using older cells will accept these with nary an issue. On the inside is where the magic has been worked with Sony using an "olivine-type lithium ion phosphate as the cathode material."
Thanks both to the use of this new material and Sony's "proprietary particle design," a 30 minute charge will take the cells to 99 per cent capacity, which Sony says is twice as fast as its existing li-ion battery line-up. 80 per cent capacity retention after an impressive 2,000 discharge cycles is four times better than Sony's existing lithium ion cells.
Shipment of these batteries started in June, presumably to get stock into shops ready for a hard launch so those in the market for long-lasting, quick-charging batteries should see them up for gabs soon.