Toshiba claims battery breakthrough

Toshiba Corp.'s affiliate Toshiba Battery Co. Ltd. has developed a nickel-zinc based disposable battery, which has proved in tests to last five times as long as standard alkaline batteries, the company announced Wednesday. The battery -- which Toshiba stressed is disposable not rechargeable -- is expected to be used for mobile devices, especially digital still cameras.

The company will roll out the AA-size GigaEnergy product in March 2002 in Japan, as well as in other regions which have large digital still camera markets, including the U.S., Europe and other Asian countries, according to spokesman Yutaka Nomura. Its price of 240 yen (US$1.93) is 50 percent higher than an AA-size alkaline battery, which costs about 160 yen, he said.

The GigaEnergy battery uses nickel oxyhydroxide for the positive electrode, a compound often used in rechargeable batteries. By making the battery disposable, it became more suitable for mobile devices, Nomura said.

Used in a digital still camera, the batteries last five times longer than alkaline batteries, and the GigaEnergy works better in a low-temperature environment where alkaline batteries' performance declines, he said.

The current marketing target is digital still cameras as they are the only major mobile devices that use disposable batteries. But the company also hopes to tie up with other manufacturers to develop mobile products, which take the GigaEnergy, for new markets, Nomura said.

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