Boston-Power readies long-lasting laptop batteries

After three years of development, upstart Boston-Power is expected to announce a customer that will include its premium batteries in laptops early next year.

Upstart Boston-Power is within months of having its long-lasting batteries shipped in notebook PCs, as it eyes expansion into portable power packs and electric cars.

The three-year-old company says its Sonata batteries are able to recharge to 80 percent capacity in 30 minutes, versus two hours to get to a 90 percent charge in conventional notebook batteries. And Boston-Power's batteries can be recharged 1,000 times before their performance starts to wane, versus 150 times in today's laptops, according to founder and CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud. Typically, the amount of computing time that a laptop battery supplies goes down after hundreds of charges.

Boston-Power founder and CEO Christina Lampe-Onnerud holding a Sonata lithium ion battery cell. Martin LaMonica/CNET Networks

I caught up with Lampe-Onnerud on Tuesday at the Fourth Conference on Clean Energy in Boston. Ironically, we bumped into each other at a water cooler where I was doing what so many laptop toters are stuck doing: plugging into a free outlet because my battery was dying.

Lampe-Onnerud says the arrival of Sonata batteries will mean a completely different user experience, allowing people to go all day without having to carry cords and search out public power outlets.

Hewlett-Packard last year said it has tested Boston-Power's batteries.

Without mentioning HP by name, Lampe-Onnerud said Boston-Power expects to announce its first customer soon. A company representative on Wednesday said Sonata-powered laptops will be available early next year. Lampe-Onnerud added that the company is working with smaller laptop providers as well.

Boston-Power, which has raised $70 million, has a technology road map to improve further on performance. In its labs, it has batteries able to recharge 1,400 times. Next year, it intends to release a portable power source for recharging consumer electronics, either through a USB connection or a small solar panel , Lampe-Onnerud said.

In two years, it expects to have a product for plug-in electric cars, she added. "The specifications for laptops and electric cars are remarkably close," she said.


The company has done a number of things to improve lithium ion battery performance and safety, according to Lampe-Onnerud. The company has also redesigned the battery pack to have fewer cells and has made a number of manufacturing improvements, she explained.

She argued that the Sonata batteries are a "clean technology" because they are more energy-efficient. The company also seeks to use less harmful reactive chemicals and no heavy metals.

To manufacture its batteries--a significant business challenge for any new battery company--Boston-Power has set up factories in Taiwan and China.


Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Show Comments Hide Comments
Latest Galleries from CNET
The breathtaking art and science of light
SkyBell's Video Doorbell chimes in (pictures)
Here's looking at you, Cloud LED (pictures)
Take a peek at Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel for Android tablets (pictures)
Twitter's iOS app gets cool new features (pictures)
An iPhone 6 case designed for Moment lenses (pictures)