A new survey identifies runtime and capacity as the most important battery features for portable applications, but also suggests many engineers lack knowledge of some of the up-and-coming battery chemistries, such as lithium-ion.
Nexergy, Inc., which created the survey and sent it to 3,000 engineers and marketers, says the results showed most engineers select batteries based on their definition of performance rather than cost.
"First and foremost, performance is key," says John Costa, executive vice president of Nexergy. "People feel you can truly achieve a competitive advantage with a better designed battery pack." Costa added while runtime and capacity fared best among respondents, cost was the fifth most important feature among engineers.
Still, Nexergy learned many engineers were only vaguely familiar with lithium-ion battery technology, despite its growing popularity in new products and in the news media.
"We found that people were just not educated on emerging battery technologies," Costa says. "Many weren't aware of lithium-ion or they simply didn't know about the trade-offs that are involved in using it."
Costa says the survey questioned engineers about the trade-offs associated with various lithium-ion chemistries and found 49 percent of respondents couldn't respond to those inquiries. Many respondents weren't aware of such issues as energy density, safety, discharge rate and cycle life and how they differ from one battery chemistry to another. Those issues may be critical when choosing the right chemistry for a notebook PC or a handheld power tool, he says.
"There may be a lot of engineers who are familiar with lithium-ion," Costa says. "But within that category, there's standard lithium-ion, lithium polymer, high-drain and iron-phosphate. It's not as simple as saying 'lithium-ion' and engineers need to know the differences."