Scientists develop battery that charges in 20 seconds
Posted on 12 Mar 2009 at 11:58
Engineers claim to have developed lithium-ion batteries that could lead to smaller, lighter batteries that charge in seconds.
Due to the amount of energy they can store lithium-ion batteries are typically found in consumer devices such as MP3 players and laptops, however they are slow to recharge.
Scientists have traditionally blamed this on slow-moving lithium ions which carry charge across the battery. However, five years ago, Gerbrand Ceder and a team at MIT discovered that lithium ions in traditional lithium iron phosphate battery material actually move quite quickly.
Ceder and colleagues discovered the problem was to do with the way ions pass through the material. Lithium ions travel through tunnels accessed from the surface of the material. If a lithium ion at the surface is directly in front of a tunnel entrance, it can quickly deliver a charge. But if the ion is not at the entrance, it cannot easily move there, making it less efficient at delivering a charge.
Ceder and colleagues remedied this by revamping the battery recipe. "We changed the composition of the base material and we changed the way it is made - the heat treatment," says Ceder.
This created many smooth tunnels in the material that allow the ions to slip in and out easily.
Using their new processing technique, the team made a small battery that could be fully charged in ten to 20 seconds.
Ceder thinks the material could lead to smaller, lighter batteries because less material is needed for the same result.
And because they simply tinkered with a material already commonly used for batteries, it could be easily adapted for commercial use.
"If manufacturers decide they want to go down this road, they could do this in a few years," he says.
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