Skip to comments.Lithium batteries charge ahead - Researchers demonstrate cells that can power up in seconds.
Posted on 03/11/2009 1:43:13 PM PDT by neverdem
Two researchers have developed battery cells that can charge up in less time than it takes to read the first two sentences of this article. The work could eventually produce ultra-fast power packs for everything from laptop computers to electric vehicles.
Byoungwoo Kang and Gerbrand Ceder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge have found a way to get a common lithium compound to release and take up lithium ions in a matter of seconds. The compound, which is already used in the electrodes of some commercial lithium-ion batteries, might lead to laptop batteries capable of charging themselves in about a minute. The work appears in Nature1 this week.
Lithium-ion batteries are commonplace in everything from mobile phones to hybrid vehicles. "They're essentially devices that move lithium ions between electrodes," says Ceder. The batteries generate an electric current when lithium ions flow out from a storage electrode, float through an electrolyte, and are chemically bound inside the opposing cathode. To recharge the battery, the process is reversed: lithium ions are ripped from the cathode compound and sent back to be trapped in their anode store.
The speed at which a battery can charge is limited by how fast its electrons and ions can move - particularly through its electrodes. Researchers have boosted these rates by building electrodes from nanoparticle clumps, reshaping their surfaces, and using additives such as carbon. But for most lithium-ion batteries, powering up still takes hours: in part because the lithium ions, once generated, move sluggishly from the cathode material to the electrolyte.
That seemed to be the case for lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4), a material that is used in the cathode of a small number of commercial batteries. But when Ceder and Kang did some calculations, they saw that the compound could theoretically do much better. Its crystal structure creates "perfectly sized tunnels for lithium to move through", says Ceder. "We saw that we could reach ridiculously fast charging rates."
So why hadn't anyone seen this speedy charging in practice? Ceder and Kang theorize that the lithium ions were having trouble finding their way to the crystal structure's express tunnels. The authors helped the ions by coating the surface of the cathode with a thin layer of lithium phosphate glass, which is known to be an excellent lithium conductor. Testing their newly-coated cathode, they found that they could charge and discharge it in as little as 9 seconds.
"As far as I know, this is the fastest yet for this material," comments Peter Bruce, a chemist at the University of St Andrews, UK. The researchers do not know exactly how the disordered glass helps lithium ions transfer between the electrolyte and the cathode.
Other materials, such as nickel oxide, have achieved similarly fast charging rates, says John Owen, a chemist at the University of Southampton, UK. "This is a nice demonstration of the concept in a lithium system," he says. Lithium, though, can store more energy for less weight than nickel compounds, and holds its charge better.
It's particularly important because lithium iron phosphate is already being used commercially, adds Bruce. Speeding lithium ion movement would vastly improve energy recovery in hybrid vehicles, which recharge their batteries when the vehicle brakes a process that lasts only seconds. It could also eventually lead to fully electric vehicles that could charge reasonably quickly.
Ceder says that he thinks that improvements in modelling will allow researchers to find other candidates for ultra-fast batteries. "My guess is that there are more materials like this out there," he says.
Throw in a flywheel, Solar panel on the roof, boiler and triple expansion steam engine and a sheep to supply methane (with ‘proper fittings’) and you will have the most complicated car ever.
Toyota claims that not one has required a battery replacement due to malfunction or “wearing out.” The only replacement batteries sold—at the retail price of $3000—have been for cars that were involved in accidents. Toyota further claims that the nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) battery packs used in all Prius models are expected to last the life of the car with very little to no degradation in power capability. http://consumerguideauto.howstuffworks.com/hybrid-batteries-none-the-worse-for-wear-cga.htm
“one might think that that the speed at which it can be charged is also the speed that it can be discharged.”
I think you are correct. This means a massive amount of energy could be discharged very quickly if there is a short circuit. It seems to me that this would present a Hindenberg-like risk of catastrophic failure.
So - only conservatives could get them? :-0
They need to patent it elsewhere, sell the rights in some other country, and move to some other country, before Obama taxes them for being “lucky.”
A neighbor replaced his at 140,000 and somehow he talked Toyota into installing it at cost; under $2500.
New drug shows benefits against nasty asthma It sound's like a monoclonal antibody. It's probably not cheap.
FReepmail me if you want on or off my health and science ping list.
You are underestimating the potential current coming out of this battery.
BTW you can arc weld with a bunch of jumper cables, eight or nine car batteries and a coat hanger as welding rod. It won't be pretty but it can get you off the trail.
Shorting this battery wouldn't make an arc welder, it would make a bomb.
Electric potential turns to heat, heat turns parts of battery and bus bar to plasma...
Do they run down at the same speed as they charge ?......:o)
A battery that can totally discharge in 9 seconds by definition moves a lot of energy in a short period of time. Thus it will deliver a lot of energy when it is shorted out. Should this short occur inside the battery between the + and the - components, yes it might blow up or catch fire.
Holy mackeral! Don't ever short the suckers out!
You mean your electric range or electric dryer is not on a 50AMP breaker?
Yup, lots of hype in the article.
University of Miami physicist develops battery using new source of energy
His discovery is a ‘proof of principle’ of the existence of a ‘spin battery’
University of Miami | Mar 11, 2009 | Unknown
Posted on 03/11/2009 5:30:26 PM PDT by decimon
Breakthrough battery can charge up in seconds
timesonline.co.uk | March 12, 2009 | Mark Henderson
Posted on 03/11/2009 4:41:38 PM PDT by Free ThinkerNY