For years now, we’ve been promised exciting new battery technologies that claim to dramatically boost battery life, and none of them ever seem to materialize. But a new Apple patent application describes a simple way to achieve a worthwhile increase in battery life with nothing more high-tech than a metal housing.
The invention is a little ironic, as it solves a problem Apple originally created back in 2015 with the batteries in the 12-inch MacBook, before subsequently adopting the same tech in the rest of the MacBook lineup …
In the 12-inch MacBook, Apple switched from rigid rectangular batteries to pouches that can be shaped to fit the available space. At the time, the company hailed that as a breakthrough tech, as it allowed batteries to fill all the free space inside the machine.
That offers a lot of flexibility, but the approach also creates problems, as Apple explains.
Lithium-polymer batteries are commonly used as rechargeable batteries to provide power to a variety of electronic devices, including laptop computers, tablet computers, mobile phones, personal digital assistants (PDAs), digital music players and cordless power tools. Lithium-polymer batteries can often include electrodes and electrolyte sealed in an aluminized laminated pouch. These pouch batteries can be used in space-constrained portable electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptop computer, and/or wearable devices.
The sealed edges of the pouch battery can result in excess pouch material and the pouch can have a positive voltage that requires the exterior surface of the pouch to be isolated from conductive surfaces in the electronic device. To accommodate the excess pouch material and isolate the conductive surface of the pouch battery, the pouch battery needs to be smaller than the area provided in the electronic device, resulting in wasted space. This is especially important in space-constrained portable electronic devices, where space is at a premium and the devices are commonly designed to accommodate the largest batteries possible.
To solve this, Apple proposes to stick to the irregular shapes that enable the batteries to make full use of the space, but swap a soft pouch for a rigid…