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Wednesday, August 23, 2006, 10:35 am PT (01:35 pm ET)

Apple, others working on battery standard

Leading notebook makers Apple, Dell, and Lenovo will hold a summit meeting in San Jose, Calif. next month to begin development of standards for the manufacture of lithium ion batteries for portable and handheld electronics.

The companies are part of the OEM Critical Components Committee of the IPC-Association Connecting Electronics Industries — an organization of some 2,400 companies which represent all facets of the electronic interconnection industry, including design, printed circuit board manufacturing and electronics assembly.

The move comes on the heels of Dell's announcement this month that it is recalling 4.1 million lithium-ion batteries — the largest consumer electronics recall in history. The notebook batteries, which include cells manufactured by Sony, may overheat and could pose a fire risk, Dell said.

"Without a doubt, standardization can and will address the issue of operation and safety called into question by the use of lithium ion batteries.," said John Grosso, chairman of the IPC OEM Critical Components Committee and director of supplier engineering and quality at Dell. "While the Committee had identified lithium ion batteries as the next product for standardization, we are going to accelerate our activities now."

Grosso said the IPC Committee will identify any current standards related to lithium ion batteries with the goal of standardizing design, performance and safety requirements for these batteries.

The committee has recently been very active in identifying and working to standardize components vital to the the computer and telecommunications industries. It recently completed a standard for cooling fans, which took less than a year from design to implementation — a remarkable turnaround time for PC standards.

The E-Commerce Times recently quoted Grosso as saying that he expects a similar turnaround time for the battery standard. "We're going to have a standard out on batteries by no later than July 2007," he said.