Apple debuts reusable battery charger

Apple has shipped a charger for renewable batteries that it says will reduce idle energy usage.
Written by David Worthington, Contributor

Apple has added a Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery charger to its line up of Mac accessories that it says will markedly reduce energy draw over similar chargers on the market.

The Apple Battery Charger became generally available today, and costs $29.00. It includes six AA NiMH batteries that Apple claims will last ten years, according to its design cycle life and anticipated user scenario. The charger may be used to charge AA NiMH batteries from other vendors.

Apple has devised a power management system that reduces "vampire draw" -- the term for energy that is consumed when a device is plugged in but in standby mode -- from the industry average 315 milliwatts to 30 milliwatts. An Apple spokesperson was not available for comment.

The batteries that Apple provides have an "extraordinarily low self-discharge rate," and will retain 80 percent of their charge even after sitting idle for a year, the company says. But an expert demurred at the suggestion that the batteries were significantly unique.

Apple has succeeded in producing better electronics to reduce the waste of energy in the charger, but "there is no battery innovation here," said Gerbrand Ceder, an R. P. Simmons Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The company's iMac computers ship with Apple's Magic Mouse and a wireless keyboard - unless customers specify otherwise. Those devices ship with disposable alkaline batteries. Apple sold 3.472 Macs last quarter.

Other companies that manufacture items such as keyboards and mice already use rechargeable Lithium-ion battery batteries, Ceder said. "[Packaging Li-ion batteries] seems to make more sense than to worry about charge efficiency of NiMH batteries, which use expensive metals anyway," he added.

Many of Apple's top selling products including the iPad and iPhone use Li-ion batteries, Ceder noted.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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