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New Zinc Air Battery Provided by Energizer Triples Lifetime

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The mid of 2010 will see the launch of a new Energizer battery based on a 35 year-old technology. The new battery is expected to be smaller, to provide more energy and to address to a bigger market.

Energizer have developed their new battery based on the Zinc Air technology. The R&D team has extended the lifetime of both alkaline and lithium-ion batteries of similar volumes to at least three times: “What we have done is, we have figured out how to control the airflow, giving the battery just enough air to support the application, and nothing more,” said Jon Eager, director at Energizer.

The normal Zinc Air batteries use oxygen to generate power. The size of this battery type can be reduced a lot, as it does not have an anode and a cathode like normal batteries do. The thickness of the smallest size alkaline battery (AAAA) can be reduced from 8mm to only 5mm, and the battery can be provided in rectangular shape. Zinc Air batteries have an air access hole which is  sealed with a tab. The tab is removed by the consumer in order to use the battery. The major disadvantage appears when the active material is exposed to the environment, as the battery is not able to deliver enough power anymore, beginning to deteriorate.  The lifetime of such batteries is usually about one to three months. In colder temperatures, the ability to generate energy is reduced as well and the battery is also influenced by high or low humidity.

A key point of the Zinc Air batteries is actually the air management control, so that the maximum possible runtime can be achieved. Jon Eager said that about 30 OEMs have expressed an interest in the Zinc Air battery. The OEMs produce a variety of low-power consumer products, like wireless keyboards, bluetooth headsets, remote controls, flash audio players and penlights so the interest of having a battery that can be used for a longer period of time and which has small dimensions is of interest to all.

The first model that Energizer will bring on the market is the 1.5V PP355 (AAAA volume) battery, having only 5mm in thickness and will be delivered in a  prismatic package, measuring 32.2 x 14.7 x 4.0mm. The price of the Zinc Air batteries is expected to be about the same as of the special lithium batteries.

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