updated 12/27/2004 11:05:48 PM ET 2004-12-28T04:05:48

Americans and Europeans will soon be able to buy a more powerful battery that promises enough juice for twice as many digital pictures as regular batteries.

The Oxyride battery, developed by Matsushita Electric Industrial Co. Ltd., maintains higher voltage and output longer because its electricity-producing materials can be packed more closely inside the cell.

Matsushita, which makes the Panasonic brand, also developed techniques for stuffing the cell with more electrolyte, a key ingredient that leads to longer battery life.

The growing popularity of digital cameras, portable music players, handheld video game machines and other gadgets is boosting demand for powerful batteries.

The Oxyride battery will be available in the United States and Europe in April, a year after it was first sold in Japan. AA and AAA Oxyride batteries will cost about 10 percent more than regular, alkaline batteries, Matsushita officials said.

Currently, Oxyride batteries comprise about a third of Panasonic AA battery sales, or 7 percent of the overall AA battery market in Japan.

Copyright 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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