Chris, we were talking about this yesterday at lunch: A new lithium-ion battery may soon see applications in hybrid cars. The current crop of hybrids use older nickel-metal hydride batteries. While lithium-ion batteries have become ubiquitous in cellphones and laptop computers because of their far greater power capacity, they become dangerously volatile when used in larger scale applications, like powering hybrid vehicles – volatile as in explosive.
But the Saphion, a new lithium-ion battery design from Valence Technologies, offers the power of lithium-ion with the safety of nickel-metal hydride. While the Saphion is not as powerful as traditional lithium-ion batteries, it provides far greater power than equivalent nickel-metal hydride batteries. The only stumbling block for major adoption in large scale use is its price.
The first customer for the Saphion is Segway, who recently introduced three new lines of Human Transporters this spring. The new battery effectively doubles the Segway’s operating range, making this gizmo suddenly seem a more useful alternative to an automobile.