Bringing laptop battery back from the dead
June 16, 2006 9:10 AM   Subscribe

Can I recondition a dead laptop battery?

I have an old Thinkpad X20. It was sitting around unused for a very long time and now the battery will not hold a charge at all. It has to be plugged in for the laptop to work. I heard that this happens to laptop batteries after long periods of non-use.

Is there anything I could try that might revive the battery?
posted by jclovebrew to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think you need to get a new one.
posted by BackwardsCity at 9:20 AM on June 16, 2006

Laptop batteries die. The X20 must be a good 4-5 years old by now IIRC, so, just get a new one.
posted by kcm at 9:21 AM on June 16, 2006

No, there really isn't anything that will revive the battery. You could run it through many, many charge-discharge cycles and perhaps scrape a minute or so out of it, but it's basically a dead battery.
posted by majick at 9:26 AM on June 16, 2006

You could try this, but it would probably be more cost effective to buy a new battery.
posted by jtfowl0 at 9:47 AM on June 16, 2006

I haven't tried them, but you might look at these guys.
posted by underwater at 11:41 AM on June 16, 2006

If it's REALLY old, it might be NiCd or NiMH, in which case you could crudely replace the cells pretty cheaply. But it's most likely Li-Ion, in which case, it might make an interesting project, but the time/money costs would mean you wouldn't be saving anything.

Li-Ion cells degrade by oxidation over the years. They still store plenty of power, but they can only supply it in a slow trickle (too small to run the computer) due to the increased internal resistance from the oxidation. So in a sense, the battery is probably still useful, but not for a computer, it will probably power something with much lower drain nicely (like a flashlight). As to reconditioning it to reverse the oxidation, I have no idea if that's possible, but I imagine any process that could do it would probably involve the destruction of the cell :)
posted by -harlequin- at 1:27 PM on June 16, 2006

I imagine any process that could do it would probably involve the destruction of the cell

And your house.

Lithium Ion batteries have a failure mode we call "Halt and Catch Fire." Don't screw with them if you don't know what you're doing. Lithium is a rather reactive metal -- it's not Sodium or Cesium, but it's the same group -- and futzing around with it is likely to result in bad things.

Lithium Ion batteries have amazing energy density, and lousy shelf life. They lose about 20% of their current capacity every year, from the moment they're made. Heat accelerates this.

So, new battery time.
posted by eriko at 6:15 PM on June 16, 2006

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