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Sony Developing Longer-Lasting Smartphone Battery

Sony Corp. is working on new battery technology that the company says would have a 40% longer life than a lithium-ion battery of the same size. Sony is planning to have the higher-capacity batteries on the market around 2020.

Sony's current lithium-ion battery. Image via Nikkei Technology

The new batteries use sulfur compound as the electrode, which Sony says can increase energy density by volume to 1,000 Wh/L, up from the 700 Wh/L capacity of current Li-ion batteries. The company is working on two types of battery, a lithium-sulfur (Li-S) and magnesium-sulfur (Mg-S).

Using a lithium-sulfur compound as the electrode isn't a new idea, it's just that the sulfur degrades so rapidly that a rechargeable battery would be shot after a handful of uses. Sony's announcement indicates that it has either found, or is close to finding, a solution to that problem.

The announcement of the Mg-S battery is intriguing as it eliminates lithium from the battery altogether. Magnesium is more abundant than lithium, and could lead to cheaper batteries. And unlike lithium, magnesium does not form dendrites, which lead to Li-ion batteries degrading or catching fire.

Obviously, Sony isn't the only company looking for ways to give batteries a longer life. But it must be on to something if the company is willing to announce a timetable. There's always the chance that Sony won't be able to meet this goal. Who knows, though? Maybe this will spur competition and we'll see higher-capacity batteries before 2020.

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