Don’t get me wrong, I like the power increase that comes with each successive generation of smartphones, but I’m far from alone when I say that I’d rather have a battery that lasts longer than an improved processor whose added power I probably won’t even utilize. Improving battery technology is much easier said than done, however, but Sony is one of the many companies that’s making an effort, and unlike all of those other breakthroughs and improvements we hear about that never actually make it to the market, the company is working on a sulfur-based battery that will actually be hitting the market. The batteries are claimed to last 40% longer than existing batteries, but the caveat is that they won’t launch until Sony has finished its extensive safety tests, which will take until at least 2020.
Battery life remains the bane of the technology world. But Sony has announced that it’s working on a new kind of lithium and sulfur energy storage that will provide 40 percent more life for a given battery volume, and should be ready as soon as 2020. Sony tells Nikkei that it’s working on a battery that uses sulfur at the negative electrode (and plain old lithium at the positive one) to provide an energy density per unit volume of 1,000 Wh/L. For comparison, most conventional lithium-ion batteries have an energy density of around 700Wh/L. That means a new cell of equivalent size to a current-day battery could last 40 percent longer than at present. According to the newspaper, Sony plans to create a commercial version of the new lithium-sulfur battery as soon as 2020. It’s planned to be a laminated battery, of the sort you find in mobile phones. If 40 percent sounds like a modest jump, bear in mind that battery innovation has been slow in recent years. Most energy source advances have seen step-changes in rapid charging, rather than improvement of batteries themselves. If Sony can actually crank out a battery which holds 40 percent more juice for a given volume, we’ll all notice a pretty significant difference.