OXFORD, England - A new generation of lithium-ion rechargeable batteries developed for the military will be adapted for use by the automotive industry in the next few years, according to UK research group AEA Technology.
The new batteries have been designed to power the sophisticated weapons and communications systems carried by soldiers. The batteries' thin panels mean they are compact enough to be stored inside a soldier's body armor.
Lithium-ion batteries are smaller and lighter than traditional lead-acid or nickel-cadmium batteries, and last three times longer per charge. They can be fashioned into virtually any shape and thickness. That means they could be housed in spare space within a car, giving automotive designers greater freedom.
The new batteries will be far removed from the dirty, heavy batteries that are traditionally housed in cars' engine bays, said AEA Batteries' technical director Bill Macklin.
Lithium-ion batteries could be installed inside body panels, and could be recharged by sunlight. They are 80 per cent rechargeable within one hour and could be developed for pure electric or hybrid car use, Macklin said.
The development of lithium-ion cells has been made a priority by the UK's Design Council in response to growing demand for light, rechargeable batteries to power mobile phones and laptop computers.
Oxford-based AEA was formed in 1996 from what used to be the UK's atomic energy authority. The new lithium-ion rechargeable batteries are being developed through a joint venture between AEA, Japan Storage Battery and Mitsubishi.