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Helping to build a better battery

A 3M pilot project is making longer-lasting lithium ion batteries for consumer electronics. Next up: electric vehicle batteries.

Every smartphone and tablet user knows the freedom of going cordless comes with a price — the nuisance of having to recharge batteries on those devices.

3M Co. sees market opportunity from easing the hassle.

The Maplewood-based manufacturer, whose customers include many businesses in electrical, electronic and communications markets, has developed a new material that it says could boost the life of lithium ion batteries by as much as 40 percent. 3M spent more than five years developing the material and recently was granted a patent on it, according to Chris Milker, business development manager for the company’s electronic markets materials division.

Milker said 3M is targeting two portions of the $10 billion lithium ion battery market. Initially it’s aiming at the consumer electronics market. The company currently is making the new battery material on limited scale at its facilities in Cottage Grove and is supplying a select number of battery companies that work with consumer electronics firms. He said 3M expects to begin full-scale production next year.
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