Dyson invests in Sakti3: new technology could double smartphone battery life

Batteries of the future might first arrive in your vacuum cleaner, rather than your smartphone or electric car

David Cameron views vacuum design products with James Dyson at the Dyson headquarters in Malmesbury, south west England
David Cameron views vacuum design products with James Dyson at the Dyson headquarters in Malmesbury, south west England

Dyson, the British vacuum firm, has invested $15 million into a new kind of battery that could double the battery life of smartphones and power the electronic cars of the future.

The company has made its first ever external investment, in Sakti3 which formed at the University of Michigan. The company says that its solid-state battery technology is a huge improvement on existing lithium-ion batteries, storing about twice as much power.

Dyson is likely to use the batteries in its cordless vacuum cleaners, which are at the moment powered by the old technology. But battery life has been a huge problem in technology products as wide as mobile phones, which now tend to last only a day, to electric cars.

Mobile phone battery life — as well as those in smartwatches — has come to be seen as the biggest missing feature in many models. And electric cars are entirely dependent on the life of their power bricks — “range anxiety”, which drivers feel when they worry their car might run out of charge, could be solved by the 600-mile power of Sakti3’s batteries.

As well as lasting much longer, Sakti3’s batteries are much easier to produce and far safer than the most popular existing batteries. Lithium-ion products are based on liquids, and can catch fire in bad conditions.

Instead, Sakti3's solid state batteries use solid electrodes, rather than liquid chemicals. As well as being much safer than the existing technologies, it also avoids many of the problems that plague the new batteries made by its competition, such as those that are based on sulphur which can leak and cause danger.

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