Today, we learned that Samsung SDI had applied a new battery production process to small batteries. As the new technology is described, it stacks the internal material of the battery layer by layer like a staircase. In fact, this technology has been previously used for 5th generation (Gen 5) electric vehicle batteries. Due to the energy density increase, not only the mileage of electric vehicles has been increased but also the cost is reduced a lot. That’s why there is every reason to think that the upcoming smartphones and tablets with such batteries will provide much longer endurance.
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As various media reports, Samsung SDI decided to introduce a stacking-type production process to the small pouch-type battery production line at its Cheonan plant. To apply the new technology, Samsung has to remodel the production line called ‘M-Line’. Until now, only the winding-type battery was produced by weaving battery materials such as anode material, separator, and anode material. This is the first time that Samsung SDI is preparing to produce small batteries in the stacking process.
Though there is no information on how much Samsung will invest in this project, the initial investment is expected to be in the tens of billions of won. If nothing else, Samsung would have to invest at least 100 billion won ($80+ million).
Getting back to winding, it is a simple battery assembly method. This technology is used for cylindrical batteries. That’s why its production efficiency is high. However, it is difficult to use 100% of the space inside the battery, and if charging and discharging are repeated, a swelling phenomenon may occur. In effect, the materials inside are deformed. This is the reason why the capacity of the small pouch-type battery could not be increased innovatively.
Using the stacking process, energy density can be increased by more than 10%. For example, if the battery capacity of the latest Galaxy S smartphone is 5000mAh, the stacking process can make it more than 5500mAh. However, instead of notching equipment required for making tabs of anode and cathode materials, the manufacturers will need stacking equipment.
On contrary, Apple uses a ‘multi-cell’ structure, in which several batteries are connected together to increase battery capacity. A typical example is the ‘L-shaped’ battery used in the iPhone. This is a method that could not increase the battery capacity at once. Increasing the battery capacity without using multiple cells can radically change the design of a smartphone. It is possible to design a smartphone that is thinner and lighter and has a higher battery capacity.