Battery Breakthrough Could Lead To Quicker Charges, Larger Capacities

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News Posted: Fri, Mar 12 2010 10:42 AM
Battery research is one of those things that continues to frustrate us. How long have we been dealing with AA batteries that die out way too quickly? How long have standard sized notebooks been stuck with batteries that can't last over 3 to 4 hours in heavy use scenarios? Far too long in our estimation, and we're eager for a change. Of course, battery companies are in no hurry to make the items that they sell last longer; we suspect they'll want you to replace your battery as often as possible. But scientists, thankfully, have a different viewpoint, and they seem entirely more interested in improving the process rather than continuing on as things are.

Researchers Ibrahim Abou Hamad from Mississippi State University and coauthors have engineered a new charging method that relies on new developments in molecular dynamics simulations. The actual study is highly technical in nature, but it really boils down to this: they have discovered a way to significantly reduce the charging time of Li-ion batteries, which are widely used in everything from laptops to electric cars. For a more techy perspective, we're told that they have simulated the lithium-ion battery charging process by "simulating the intercalation (i.e. “insertion”) of lithium ions into the battery’s graphite anode," and in their testing, they found that "an additional oscillating electric field can lower this energy barrier, enabling lithium ions to intercalate more quickly into the anode."

The science behind the breakthrough

As for the future of the discovery? The team hopes to continue investigating the findings, and they'll be altering the frequency of the oscillating field in order to judge the effect on charging time. In a best case scenario, this could also provide a boost in battery power densities. Unfortunately, we doubt that this breakthrough will effect the batteries that we see on store shelves for some time to come, but we'll happy be proven wrong!
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Inspector replied on Fri, Mar 12 2010 1:07 PM

I got no clue what the graph is showing... Lol, but how much longer is it...

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Joel H replied on Fri, Mar 12 2010 2:09 PM

I don't see how this technology would ever lead to larger capacities. The capacity of a battery is directly related to the physical components inside of it. That's not to say that building better batteries is impossible, but it's quite difficult to build a better battery at prices that won't break the bank.

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Batteries are one of those things that normally requires a medium change to become more effective. The problem is that the better medium normally cost a fairly good chunk of change more.

As for the chart, it shows he charging time and how increasing the intercalation effects this. The blue is the current standard and shows it takes about 110 units of time to charge the battery 90%. The grey is at 90% intercalation and shows it would take 250+ units of time to charge the battery to 90%. The green with is 110% intercalation shows shows around 30 units of time for 90% charge. The red and black are 120% and 130% intercalation respectively, with times of about 20 and less than 10.

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rapid1 replied on Fri, Mar 12 2010 2:42 PM

I think this is one of the biggest areas at least in impact today. Almost everything is becoming or is already mobile in one way or another. From what I have seen in this specific area I like the Hydrogen power cells the best. There battery run time as well as power amount are great. how would you like a laptop with decent components that would run like it was on a wall plug for 3 straight days. Of course it has not made it to the purchasable level yet, and is still only from what I can tell distributed to the Military. At least from what I gathered. Energy on all fronts seems to be the topic at least scientifically today, whether it's mobile in a device, a car, or in a house/business.

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markk replied on Fri, Mar 12 2010 5:34 PM

What the original article says is that if you add a 25 GHz AC square wave voltage to the DC charging voltage, Li Ion batteries can charge much faster. Larger amplitude square waves result in shorter times. The problem, of course, is doing it cheaply enough for consumer gear while meeting FCC and other noise emission requirements.

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ixrs replied on Fri, Mar 12 2010 6:46 PM

Hmm, this would be be especially useful with things like cell phones- but I think larger capacities really need a different medium.

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sp12 replied on Sat, Mar 13 2010 8:44 AM

Thanks to infinity for the explanation, I was very much lost.

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