Are We on the Verge of a Camera Battery Breakthrough?

Posted by on Friday August 19, 2016 | Photo Gear

Razor512 | Flickr

Mirrorless cameras are notorious for having lousy battery life. DSLRs fare much better, but still require bulky battery grips to coax more exposures out of them.

That could be about to change.

A new company, SolidEnergy Systems, is poised to commercialize a variant of the widely-used lithium ion battery that will double existing Li-Ion battery life or (equally exciting) can deliver the same amount of power of a traditional Li-Ion battery in a package that’s half the size.

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 7.19.17 AM

The new battery tech, called lithium metal, replaces “a common battery anode material, graphite, for very thin, high-energy lithium-metal foil, which can hold more ions — and, therefore, provide more energy capacity,” according to a statement released by MIT, where SolidEnergy Systems was incubated.

Lithium metal batteries are manufactured using the same equipment used for lithium ion manufacturing, so they can be produced quickly at scale.

Indeed, the company plans to release its first battery–for drones–in November, followed by batteries for smartphones and wearable technology in 2017 and electric vehicles in 2018. While cameras and other consumer electronic devices aren’t on the immediate roadmap, it’s not hard to imagine this technology gaining widespread traction if it delivers on its promise.

That said, companies promising dramatic battery life improvements are something of a staple of the electronics business. Indeed, SolidEnergy Systems has been using the facilities of A123, a highly-touted battery firm that went bust. Still, with a battery release slated for November, the SolidEnergy Systems product isn’t vaporware. It remains to be seen whether it can live up to its full promise.


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