Super-fast charging for new lithium ion battery

Researchers at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, have developed a fast‑charging long‑life lithium ion battery which has the potential to significantly boost electric vehicle (EV) and portable electronics performance.

The device can be recharged to 70% of its capacity in 2 minutes and has a 10,000 recharge cycle lifetime, compared to currently available lithium ion batteries which are closer to 500 full cycles.

Current lithium battery technology for EVs is limited by relatively slow charging rates. For comparison, Tesla supercharging stations can provide 50% of a full charge in 20 minutes and a Nissan Leaf can be charged to full capacity in approximately 8 hours from a 240V charger. Fast charging capabilities would make recharging EVs more akin to a typical 5–10 minute refuel at a petrol station and further encourage a transition to more widespread EV use.

In addition, the extended lifetime of the device–over 10 times better than current technology–can substantially reduce the levelised cost of storage (LCOS) for lithium ion batteries to all-time lows. The cost of EV battery replacement is significant and is in the order of US$5,000.

The battery utilises titanium dioxide (TiO2) nanotubes–thousands of times thinner than a human hair–as a replacement for the graphite commonly used in lithium ion batteries. The use of TiO2 speeds up the chemical reactions within the device, allowing for fast recharging. It is also worth noting that TiO2 is a safe and abundant material, often used as a food additive as well as a key component of sunscreen.

The technology has already been licensed to a company, with a view to commercialise it within the next 2 years. However, further development of the device will be necessary before it reaches full production, as the NTU team are planning the construction of a large-scale prototype with storage capacity closer to commonly used portable devices.

Advancements in EVs and their batteries go hand‑in‑hand with renewable energy. In particular, the cost‑reduction of compact lithium ion battery banks will further encourage the deployment of in‑house battery storage units for solar PV systems.

Top Image Credit: NTU

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John Rodriguez