Tesla raising nearly $2B for battery-building 'gigafactory'

Tesla is raising up to $1.84 billion dollars to realize its plans of a massive, lithium-ion battery-producing plant -- dubbed the "gigafactory" by CEO Elon Musk -- that will, among other things, help it more quickly and efficiently develop, bring to market, and produce its cheaper third-generation electric car, the company announced Wednesday.

"Tesla intends to use the net proceeds from the offering to accelerate the growth of its business in the US and internationally, for the development and production of its "Gen III" mass market vehicle, the development of the Tesla Gigafactory, and … Read more

Sekisui Chemical claims cheap, long-range lithium battery tech

Sekisui Chemical says it is on track to manufacture material that will allow production of thin, cheap, long-range batteries for electric cars by 2015.

The company announced Tuesday that the new silicon-based material for use in lithium ion batteries could result in batteries that deliver a driving range of about 370 miles -- roughly equivalent to how far a typical car can go on a full tank of gas but at a much lower cost.

As a point of comparison, Tesla's Model S with the largest capacity battery delivers about 300 miles driving at a speed of 55 mph. … Read more

Shin-Etsu Chemical eyes 10X boost in smartphone battery life

Shin-Etsu Chemical thinks new material it has developed could boost battery life by tenfold. Needless to say, even if the company achieved a fraction of that, it would be groundbreaking.

The new development replaces traditional carbon-based material in lithium-ion batteries with silicon, according to a report in the Japanese-language version of Nikkei -- which didn't provide much detail about the technology.

Though the cost is higher than carbon-based materials, the expected tenfold increase in battery life would -- theoretically -- effectively obviate the need to frequently re-charge smartphones, Nikkei said.

The material would have applications to electric car batteries … Read more

Best Buy recalls MacBook Pro replacement batteries due to 'burn hazards'

After a U.S. government agency received 13 reports of battery fires, including one that caused a "serious burn" to the user's leg, Best Buy has decided to recall thousands of replacement batteries for Apple's MacBook Pro laptops.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Wednesday that "consumers should stop using this product" because "the battery can catch fire while charging." The culprit product is ATG lithium-ion batteries and Best Buy is recalling about 5,100 of them.

Those batteries being recalled are both the black and white ATG replacement batteries … Read more

Sulfur-based tech the answer to burnable lithium-ion batteries?

We've all heard stories about exploding cell phone and laptop batteries. A person is just walking down the street with his phone in his pocket and next thing he know his pants are ablaze.

The specific culprit batteries that cause such fiery incidents are lithium-ion batteries, which are known to have issues with heat. So, why can't there be chargeable batteries that are immune to overheating? There may be.

The Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has been working on new technology that looks to replace lithium-ion batteries. The lab has designed and tested a … Read more

New teeny-tiny battery charges in less than a second

One of the biggest bugbears of smartphones is just how much juice they drain -- and how long they take to recharge. Batteries are also the reason many devices can't be smaller; after all, the batteries have to fit somewhere (although, given the burgeoning phablet market, that's not exactly a huge problem).

Scientists have made several recent attempts to build a better lithium ion battery. In the latest push, a team of researchers led by mechanical science and engineering professor William P. King at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign has developed a new type of lithium ion battery that's just a fraction of the size of the batteries we use now -- and that can out-power the best supercapacitors. … Read more

FAA approves Boeing test flights of grounded 787 Dreamliner

Boeing was granted permission today to conduct test flights of its 787 Dreamliner as the aircraft maker tries to determine the cause of battery fires that have kept the fleet of planes grounded around the world.

The test flights will be subject to a number of restrictions, the Federal Aviation Administration said today, including limiting the flights to specific airspace over unpopulated areas. Other conditions include preflight testing and inspections, and in-flight monitoring.

"The traveling public's safety is our highest priority," the FAA said in a statement. "These test flights will be an important part of … Read more

Samsung cell phone battery explodes in man's pocket

Lithium-ion batteries are notorious for overheating, catching on fire, or exploding. Yet, they're in most electronics that people use daily.

One such battery set ablaze over the weekend while in a man's pants pocket, according to the Associated Press. The man was walking around with his Samsung mobile phone in his pocket when the battery caught on fire, giving him second-degree burns and a one-inch wound on his thigh. Officials said the battery was not inside the phone when it exploded.

The incident took place in South Korea, which is where Samsung is based. According to the local … Read more

Ion Scratch 2 Go turns you into DJ Suction Cups

LAS VEGAS--Achieving DJing glory on the iPad is possible thanks to some pretty nifty apps out there, but there's always been something missing from the experience. A cold flat screen just can't replicate the dynamism and quirks of real knobs and records. Ion Audio is taking a shot at putting the feel back into tablet DJing with a set of tactile controls.

A demo unit of Scratch 2 Go is on the show floor at CES 2013. It consists of a slider control, two round discs for scratching control, and two banks of three knobs each for all the fine tuning. They hang onto the screen thanks to what Ion describes as "industrial suction cups."

The suction cups feel pretty solid. Pull them up and look below to see what makes this tick. Underneath, the spinners have what looks like the tip of a touch-screen stylus. It's nothing fancy, but it works.… Read more

IonMonkey delivers a faster Firefox

A new version of Firefox released today puts some extra speed into online games and Web apps powered by JavaScript, thanks to a new compiler called IonMonkey.

Mozilla stated in a blog post announcing the update to Firefox 18 (download for Windows | Mac | Linux) that the new engine makes JavaScript-powered Web sites run up to 25 percent faster than before.

Firefox will now look better on Macs thanks to new Retina support, and all versions of the browser work with W3C touch screen events in addition to MozTouch events.

One security change to the browser lets you disable insecure content … Read more