High-quality and highly-reliable batteries are an indispensable part of our daily lives and despite rapid progress in almost every aspect of technology, dry cell batteries have not progressed since the alkaline battery forty years ago … until now. Panasonic is planning to release a new next-generation battery technology specifically designed for the digital era. Already on the market for close to 12 months in Japan, where it has taken a 10% market share in the face of an influx of cheap battery imports from China and South Korea, the Oxyride Extreme Power lasts twice as long as the top of the range Duracell yet will sell for the same price as a standard alkaline battery. Panasonic claims its new battery is more powerful and durable than alkaline, providing users with a high-power, long-lasting energy source. The new dry battery will be integrated in Panasonic's battery range as a new category called Oxyride, and will be available in the United States in the spring of 2005.
Oxyride batteries maintain a higher voltage and more durable output because the materials used are more concentrated. The batteries use nickel oxy hydroxide, an advanced battery substance, and finer grain graphite and manganese dioxide, allowing them to be packed more closely inside the cell.
"The digitalization of electronic devices has generated a strong demand for small, lightweight and high-performance batteries," explained Brian Kimberlin, Director of Marketing for the Panasonic Battery Group. "In response to this demand, Panasonic developed the next generation battery to keep pace with the growing power needs of today's portable, high-drain electronic devices. The new Oxyride cell keeps its voltage on a high and stable level, which is ideal when powering digital devices such as digital still cameras, handheld games, and portable audio products."
In independent lab testing, new AA-size Oxyride cells lasted twice as long as alkaline cells. That results in double the amount of pictures and more rapid flash recovery time in digital cameras. In other high-drain digital and electronic devices, such as MP3 and CD players, the batteries averaged 1.5 times more power than Panasonic's alkaline cells for more playing time.
In the Japanese market, Panasonic undertook an aggressive marketing campaign for the Oxyride, visiting schools and shopping malls to demonstrate the power of the battery using a car powered by two AA-size Oxyride batteries .
The vehicle uses all the same technologies associated with solar racing vehicles – it is extremely light, weighing just 40 pounds (18 kg) and is low friction, low rolling resistance and very aerodynamic. In demonstrations across Japan, the car has repeatedly travelled a kilometre and has a best distance of more than 1.25 kilometres on a pair of AA batteries. In the demonstrations the prone driver has usually been very small – less than 100 pounds.
Matsushita (aka Panasonic and National) has embarked on a "new global strategy" aimed at expanding markets for its batteries all over the world.
Next Generation Technology
The Oxyride Extreme Power battery was developed with a technology based on a combination of newly developed materials and an advanced manufacturing process. The newly adopted cathode materials (Oxy Nickel Hydroxide and newly developed manganese dioxide and graphite) allow an increase in the quantity of the pouring amount inside the battery and a controlled mixing ratio, leading to higher voltage and current. Additionally, a new vacuum pouring technology enables the quantity of electrolyte in the battery to be increased, resulting in higher durability. With the combination of these technological developments, Panasonic's new Oxyride Extreme Power battery allows users to enjoy the benefits of improved power performance and durability.
There’s an excellent article at the New York Times by David Pogue who has actually tested some of the batteries.