A new technology may change the battery industry. According to article published by John Timmer, Ars Technica, this new technology uses a whole new approach and can work with both lithium- and nickel-based batteries. Imagine being able to charge your cell phone 90% capacity within 2 minutes. Charging a NiMH battery to 90% takes only 20 seconds.
New Battery Technology Charges Lithium Battery in Just 2 Minutes
The new technology has a whole new approach to battery make-up, and is being developed at the University of Illinois. Instead of focusing on speeding up the lithium ions in the battery, the developers worked on reducing the distance to the battery’s electrode. According to Timmer’s article, “the process by which they do this is fairly simple, and lends itself to mass production. They started with a collection of spherical polystyrene pellets. By adjusting the size of these pellets (they used 1.8µm and 466nm pellets), they could adjust the spacing of the electrode features. Once the spheres were packed in place, a layer of opal (a form of silica) was formed on top of them, locking the pattern in place with a more robust material. After that, a layer of nickel was electrodeposited on the opal, which was then etched away. The porosity of the nickel layer was then increased using electropolishing.”
Empty space is the key. After the process, the porosity (empty space) was 94 percent, falling below the limit of 96 percent thought to be the limit previously. Into this empty space went the battery component (either nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or a lithium-treated manganese dioxide.) The new process creates a battery that more like a supercapacitor in respects to battery charging and discharging. Sound too technical to you? Me too!
This new technology can be adapted to mass production. It isn’t limited to just nickel-metal hydride or lithium materials. The possibilities are really endless. The one down side to the technology is the amount of energy it uses to fast charge the batteries. While charging a cell phone battery wouldn’t take too much, imagine the juice it would take to charge an electric car.
Our society is becoming more and more battery oriented. Although it is nice to see developers working on more efficient ways to charge batteries, we are still going to have to think about how to recycle all these batteries. Perhaps while they are changing the structure of the batteries to speed up charging, they can also research and develop batteries that don’t pollute the planet when discarded. What do you think? Are you clamoring for a fast charge battery?
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