Lithium Battery Charges 70% in 2 Minutes

Elizabeth Montalbano

October 21, 2014

4 Min Read
Lithium Battery Charges 70% in 2 Minutes

Much of the research on lithium-ion batteries is focused on how to make the batteries charge more quickly and last longer than they currently do, work that would significantly improve the experience of mobile device users, as well EV and hybrid car drivers.

Researchers in Singapore have come up with what seems like the best solution so far -- a battery that can recharge itself in mere minutes and has a potential lifespan of 20 years.

The research is the work of a team of scientists at Nanyang Technology University led by Associate Professor Chen Xiaodong. He and his team said they have developed a battery that is easy to manufacture and can recharge itself up to 70% in less than two minutes, according to a press release on the NTU website. Typical lithium-ion batteries can take up to two hours to be fully charged and can last only about 500 recharge cycles, or two or three years. Researchers published their findings in an article in the journal Advanced Materials.


Key to the technology is a gel material made from titanium dioxide that's been used to replace the traditional graphite in the battery's anode, or negative pole, according to NTU's publicity officer, Lester Kok Wei Ming, who provided some detail about the technology in an email to Design News.

This design allows for the long lifespan of the battery because there is less stress on them, he told us. Ions also can move faster due to the larger surface area of the nanotubes, which allows for quicker charging. Additionally, there is no longer a need for additives such as binder materials to make graphite gel-like, since the titanium oxide material already is in gel form, he wrote.

The material does not come naturally in gel form, however, and this is where the work of researchers came into play. The research team found a way to transform the titanium dioxide into tiny nanotubes, which are a thousand times thinner than the diameter of a human hair. This is what speeds up the battery's chemical reactions, allowing for the rapid charging, according to researchers.

The presence of titanium dioxide is also one of the key reasons the battery will be easy to manufacture. The material is inexpensive, abundant, and safe, and is found in soil, according to researchers. Common uses for it include as a food additive or an ingredient in sunscreen to absorb harmful ultraviolet rays.

The new battery could improve mobile devices by eliminating long recharge times that limit the use of devices throughout long days of use.

But the real dramatic impact for the new battery would be in EVs, researchers said. Its use could save tens of thousands of dollars in battery replacement costs for drivers of these vehicles. Batteries also could be recharged quickly, allowing for a better driving experience over long distances. "Electric cars will be able to increase their range dramatically, with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars," Xiaodong said in the press release.

The problem with this type of revolutionary research is that it often doesn't make it out of the lab. But Xiaodong and his team are making plans to avoid this scenario, they said.

The NTU researchers plan to apply for a grant to build a large-scale prototype of the battery and already are eyeing partners to produce it. One company, which has not been publicly identified, already is licensing the technology for eventual production. With any luck, the team expects the batteries could make it on the commercial market in the next two years.

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About the Author(s)

Elizabeth Montalbano

Elizabeth Montalbano has been a professional journalist covering the telecommunications, technology and business sectors since 1998. Prior to her work at Design News, she has previously written news, features and opinion articles for Phone+, CRN (now ChannelWeb), the IDG News Service, Informationweek and CNNMoney, among other publications. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she also has lived and worked in Phoenix, Arizona; San Francisco and New York City. She currently resides in Lagos, Portugal. Montalbano has a bachelor's degree in English/Communications from De Sales University and a master's degree from Arizona State University in creative writing.

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