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eneloop design and technology

Understand the differences between eneloop and regular batteries

The Graphic Design of eneloop. For Life & The Earth. The origin of the eneloop graphic design goes back to the above concept. Getting the message across to the customer was the important thing in designing the actual product. In the case of eneloop, that message was the concept and the new technology.

The Graphic Design of eneloop

For Life & The Earth. The origin of the eneloop graphic design goes back to the above concept.

Getting the message across to the customer was the important thing in designing the actual product. In the case of eneloop, that message was the concept and the new technology.

  1. Conceptual side: Based on the idea of "For Life & The Earth", a new lifestyle of reusing rather than throwing away batteries was put forward.
  2. Technology side: The technology makes them easy to use with little self-discharge, completely different to previous rechargeable batteries.

The key elements to incorporate these two messages into the product graphic design (visually) rather than a document were color, shape, and simplicity.

  1. Colors and shapes suggested by the concept: The eneloop's base color of white represents the brilliance of life = light (RGB). Blue was chosen for the logo to suggest the ocean and water, and the Earth. The graphic design of the logo was carefully thought out to suggest gentleness as well as innovation based on the simple premise of the Earth = a globe, to make the concept clear.
  2. Why was it necessary to make it simple?: As was stated above, the goal aimed at with the eneloop's design was to communicate a visual message. This meant making an icon, a mark. By creating a simple and clear graphic design with all unnecessary elements removed, we believed we could communicate our message more powerfully in a visual way.

The eneloop was praised worldwide for its technology and its graphic design, successfully fully separating ourselves from other companies and creating the global brand icon of rechargeable batteries.

Mizuta Kazuhisa

Designer: Mizuta Kazuhisa

eneloop technology

eneloop is a Ni-MH battery. To understand the modifications done to the eneloop batteries, it helps to understand the construction of a typical Ni-MH battery.

Basic construction of a Ni-MH battery

Ni-MH batteries, like most other rechargeable batteries, consist of two metal stripes - the positive and negative electrode. Between these metal stripes an insulating foil, the separator, is placed. This sandwich of three layers is rolled-up to a coil and placed into a metal can, which acts as negative pole of the battery. Before closing the can with a cap, a liquid, the electrolyte, is filled into the can. The cap contains a gas release vent, which allows to release hydrogen, when the battery is overcharged. The electrical behaviour of the battery depends on the composition of the electrodes, on the separator and on the used electrolyte.

Self-discharge in Ni-MH batteries

Modern Ni-MH batteries consist of two metal stripes (anode and cathode), which are separated by a non-conductive porous plastic foil (separator). These three stripes are laid on top of each other and are wound to a coil. This coil is put in a metal can and immersed with a liquid (electrolyte). Then the metal can is closed with a cap. The self discharge of Ni-MH batteries is caused by three main reasons:

  • the chemical decomposition of the cathode
  • the natural disaggregation of the anode
  • Impurities of the anode

How could the self-discharge be reduced?

The chemical decomposition of the cathode has been reduced substantially by the use of a new superlattice alloy. As an additional benefit the superlattice alloy increases the electrical capacity of the battery and reduces the internal resistance, which allows higher discharge currents. Another advantage of the super-lattice alloy is that less cobalt is needed to stabilize the compounds' structure. The anode has been strengthened by another new material, which reduces the natural disaggregation. Additionally the separator and the used electrolyte have been optimised for low self discharge of the eneloop.

Which changes have been made for the new eneloop?

The technological difference between the "old" and the "new" eneloop is, that the super-lattice-alloy of the "new" eneloop has been even more improved.

  1. Advanced materials: Development of a highly-durable super-lattice alloy. The durability of Panasonic’s original super-lattice alloy, a negative-electrode material used in eneloop, has been enhanced by homogenizing the crystalline structure (a reduction of crystals with an irregular atomic order is irregular) as well as improving its composition (the ratio of constituent element) to reduce the deterioration of the super-lattice alloy by repeated charge and discharge
  2. Advanced manufacturing method: Developed technology to protect the surface of the super-lattice alloy. A new additive to the negative electrode material, super-lattice alloy, and a new additive coating technology was developed. By protecting the alloy surface, deterioration of the super-lattice alloy by repeated use can be reduced.
  3. Advanced structure: Use of strong/thin outer case. The new eneloop adopts the same strong/thin outer case used for Panasonic’s industry-leading level high-capacity AA-size rechargeable batteries, the Ni-MH2700 Series. This improves the internal cell space efficiency and optimizes the balance of battery components, leading to an increase in the number of times a battery can be recharged.