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Buffett to recharge EV battery market with Duracell?

Posted: 21 Nov 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Warren Buffett? Duracell?

Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc. is buying Duracell in a deal worth $4.7 billion. With products ranging from alkaline batteries to NiMH and lithium rechargeable products, analysts speculate that the acquisition is a forward step that could have far-reaching implications for the power technology industry.

For example, wireless charging is one technology that could see a boost. The new investment may accelerate Duracell's plans to place PowerMat charging devices in Starbucks coffee shops, which add up to more than 21,000 worldwide.

A more interesting area of speculation revolves around Berkshire Hathaway's investment in the Chinese electric carmaker BYD. The carmaker earlier qualified for green-vehicle incentives, as well as received licences to sell its new energy vehicles in both Shanghai and Beijing, despite the growing pollution concerns in the cities. (Read full story: BYD Qin revs up sales in China)

Meanwhile, this environmental concern threatens to interfere with Tesla's plans for battery cost reductions, known as Gigafactory, since graphitea vital constituent of EV batteriesis identified as one source of pollution in China.

The upshot of the Chinese authorities tightening up of environmental controls is going to reduce production capacity which will probably push up raw materials prices for batteries. Industry analysts suggest that a 30 per cent rise in graphite prices could increase the price of battery packs for electric vehicles by as much as five per cent. That would throw a spanner in the works of the EV price reduction strategies. (See Graphite pollution in China overcasts Tesla's growth plan)

So as Tesla and other manufacturers all watch the graphite supply situation, and try to come up with plans on how to maintain a stable, secure supply of graphite, Warren Buffett may well step forward and seize the opportunity for for Duracell to expand into batteries for vehicles and the power grid.

Duracell

Some analysts say the acquisition of Duracell by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway could have implications in the areas of wireless power and electric vehicles.

Industry full of juice with power product news

Texas Instruments introduced a 10W wireless power solution that charges one- and two-cell battery-powered applications and supports any Qi-compatible 5W system. The bq51025 receiver supports a programmable output voltage of 4.5V to 10V and achieves up to 84 per cent charging efficiency, while the bq500215 is a dedicated, fixed-frequency 10W wireless power digital controller transmitter.

Torex Semiconductor announced a 1A micro DC/DC converter that it calls the industry's smallest. Measuring 2.5mm x 2.0mm x 1mm and featuring an integrated coil, the XCL219/XCL220 series has been designed for EMI-sensitive wearable and mobile applications.

IXYS expanded its high-accuracy low-dropout linear regulators with devices available in ultra-small packages. Examples include the IXD1201, the IXD1233, the IXD1601, IXD1701, and the IXD4902, with input voltages ranging from 0.5 V to 28 V and output voltages from 0.5V to 23V.

Witricity announced a development kit for building Rezence-certified wireless charging systems. The WiT-5000C3 includes sample Power Transfer Units (PTU) and Power Receive Units (PRU) devices, evaluation tools, and all design documents needed to design, evaluate, and demonstrate Rezence-ready wireless charging products.

New synchronous buck converters from Diodes Inc. feature adaptive constant on-time control to ensure high DC output accuracy, high efficiency, and fast transient response for low-voltage power regulation in high-density, fast-changing POL system architectures. The AP65450, AP65452, and AP65552 operate at up to 92 per cent efficiency and have an input operating range of 4.5 V to 18 V.

New automotive-qualified 650V SiC diodes from STMicroelectronics are suited for advanced onboard battery chargers (OBCs) in electric vehicles and solar chargers. The 10A STPSC10H065DY and 12A STPSC12H065DY are available in TO-220AC packages, while the STPSC20H065CTY and STPSC20H065CWY 2 x 10A dual-diode devices are available in a TO-220AB package and a TO-247 package, respectively.

AVX Corp. has released a new version of its SMPS capacitor simulation software. SpiCalci 9.0 features enhanced part selection and includes almost all the new SMPS devices that the company has introduced over the past two years.

Parker Chomerics has extended the heat conductivity of its thermal management solutions. The company's line of THERM-A-GAP thermally conductive dispensing gels now offers thermal conductivity up to 6W/m-k.

Finally, TDK Corp. has announced a series of high-current chokes specifically designed for buck-boost converters in 48V automotive power systems. Measuring 27.5mm x 29.5mm x 14.5mm, the EPCOS BCEM series SMD inductors offer values of 3?H to 11?H and are designed for saturation currents up to 50A and operating temperatures between -40C and 150C.

- Rich Pell
??EE Times





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