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Untethered nodes in mobile ad hoc networks strongly depend on the efficient use of their batteries. In this paper, we propose a new metric, the drain rate, to forecast the lifetime of nodes according to current traffic conditions. This metric is combined with the value of the remaining battery capacity to determine which nodes can be part of an active route. We describe new route selection mechanisms for MANET routing protocols, which we call the minimum drain rate (MDR) and the conditional minimum drain rate (CMDR). MDR extends nodal battery life and the duration of paths, while CMDR also minimizes the total transmission energy consumed per packet. Using the ns-2 simulator and the dynamic source routing (DSR) protocol, we compare MDR and CMDR against prior proposals for energy-aware routing and show that using the drain rate for energy-aware route selection offers superior performance results. Methods keywords are system design and simulations.