A team of researchers in Singapore have developed a next generation lithium-ion battery that can recharge a battery to 70-percent in just two minutes. That means it would charge an entire electric car in just 15 minutes. And here’s the kicker: it lasts over 20 years.
Normally, it’s safe to be skeptical about new battery technology, but there’s something rather hopeful about this breakthrough. The new battery isn’t altogether new. It’s actually just an improvement upon existing lithium-ion technology.
The key comes in the form of nanostructures. Instead of the traditional graphite used to create the lithium-ion battery’s anode, this new technology uses a cheap titanium dioxide gel, the same kind of material used in sunscreen to absorb UV rays. The scientists found away to turn the compound into nanostructures that speed up the charging process. And speed it up they do. This simple innovation makes lithium-ion batteries charge 20-times faster and last 20-times longer.
The breakthrough came after the scientists replaced the traditional graphite that makes up theanode (the negative pole of the battery) in lithium-ion batteries with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide nanotubes that they created themselves.
These nanotubes are a thousand times thinner than a human hair, and they speed up the rate at which electrons and ions can transfer in and out of the batteries, allowing for super-fast charging. They also allow more energy to be packed into the batteries. This means that the battery can now offer 10,000 charging cycles, instead of the usual 500.
Even better, the new batteries will be relatively cheap, as titanium dioxide is inexpensive and already readily available in soil. The team has published details on how they formed the titanium dioxide gel in Advanced Materials, and have already had the technology licensed to eventually produce the devices. They expect they’ll be on the market within two years.