Thursday, April 09, 2015

A 60 Second Battery Fix?

One of today’s biggest mobile problems is that of battery life. When the battery is fully charge the world is our at out fingertips, but when it is running low or flat then we are effectively cut off from the world. Having to recharge the smartphone can be a chore we would rather live without and the time it often takes to recharge can seem an eternity.

So what if you could charge your battery in a minute, it held its charge longer and the battery itself was smaller and more flexible?

Researchers in Stanford University have made a breakthrough that could lead to the fast charging and longer lasting batteries and have published their findings in Nature (April 6th). In an article, the authors note, ‘This was the first time an ultra-fast aluminium-ion battery was constructed with stability over thousands of cycles.’

Using an aluminum-ion prototype, they were able to charge a smartphone type battery in 60 seconds, or 60 times faster than the conventional lithium-ion battery. The protoype consists of a soft pouch, containing aluminium for one electrode and a graphite foam for the other - all surrounded by a special liquid salt. Also they claim that its durability is also greater and that it can stand up to about 7,500 charge-discharge cycles before losing any of its capacity compared to Lithium-ion batteries 1,000 cycles. But it doesn’t stop there and they also have found that there are safety and pliability benefits.

Ming Gong, co-lead author of the Nature study, ‘You can bend it and fold it, so it has the potential for use in flexible electronic devices. Aluminium is also a cheaper metal than lithium.’

Prof Hongjie Dai from Stanford University in California claims, ‘Our new battery won't catch fire, even if you drill through it.’ This could address concerns raised on lithium-ion batteries, which have resulted in recent bans on air transport.

Now the challenge is moving what was discovered in the labs into being a commercial reality. Some question the energy density of these batteries and whether the results in the lab can be scaled up, but irrespective the findings start to point the way to creating new opportunities to connect for longer, more efficiently and could open the doors to many new devices and applications.

We just now have to wait.  

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