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Ultrafast charging batteries: 70% full in 2 minutes

Posted: 14 Oct 2014 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:lithium-ion? battery? electric vehicles? fast charging?

Batteries opened the door to tech mobilityfrom handheld computers to wireless headphones and even dronesyet these powerhouses remain tethered to wall outlets for a significant portion of their not-so-long life. A team of scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) plans to change all of that with a battery that could take just two minutes to be 70 per cent recharged.

Associate Professor Chen Xiaodong, School of Materials Science and Engineering, and his team's new batteries have a lifespan of over 20 years. Commonly used in mobile phones, tablets and electric vehicles, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries usually last 500 recharge cycles. This is equivalent to two to three years of typical use, with each cycle taking about two hours for the battery to be fully charged. According to tech experts, manufacturers will soon require higher energy density batteries that will power smaller and thinner consumer devices.

NTU scientists

NTU Associate Professor Chen Xiaodong (centre) with research fellow Tang Yuxin and PhD student Deng Jiyang. (Source: Nanyang Technological University)

In NTU's battery, the traditional graphite used for the anode in lithium-ion batteries is replaced with a gel made from titanium dioxide. Titanium dioxide is an abundant, cheap and safe material found in soil. It is commonly used as a food additive and in sunscreen lotions.

Naturally found in spherical shape, it was transformed into nanotubes a thousand times thinner than human hair by the NTU team. This speeded up the chemical reactions taking place in the new battery, allowing for superfast charging.

The breakthrough has a wide-ranging impact on all industries, especially electric vehicles, where consumers are put off by the long recharge times and limited battery life. The 10,000-cycle life of the new battery means that electric vehicle owners could save tens of thousands on battery replacements, which could cost over $5,000 each. (Another breakthrough: Li-ion batteries tout 20,000 charging cycles).

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