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Power Technology

New Electrode Lets Batteries Charge In 10 Seconds 348

Al writes "A new lithium-ion electrode allows batteries to be charged and discharged in 10 seconds flat. Developed by Gerbrand Ceder, a professor of materials science at MIT, it could be particularly useful where rapid power bursts are needed, such as for hybrid cars, but also for portable electronic devices. In testing, batteries incorporating the electrodes discharged in just 10 seconds. In comparison, the best high-power lithium-ion batteries today discharge in a minute and a half, and conventional lithium-ion batteries, such as those found in laptops, can take hours to discharge. The new high rate electrode, the researchers calculate, would allow a one-liter battery based on the material to deliver 25,000 watts, or enough power for about 20 vacuum cleaners."
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New Electrode Lets Batteries Charge In 10 Seconds

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  • Re:charging (Score:5, Informative)

    by yincrash ( 854885 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:49PM (#27159537)
    after reading the article, fast charging has not been developed. the article writer only says that it may be possible, w/o citing any source regarding that claim.
  • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:57PM (#27159643) Journal

    I'm fairly surprised to hear that vacuum cleaners use that much power - 1.25kw each is about 1.6 horsepower each. That should be enough for your vacuum cleaners to do 0-60 in the 10 seconds worth of battery you've got...

  • Re:charging (Score:5, Informative)

    by AnotherBlackHat ( 265897 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:00PM (#27159673) Homepage

    >Sure, as long as you can find a 25000 watt outlet.

    I don't think so...

    Typical Miles per kilowatt hour is 4.
    A 100 mile fill-up = 25 kilowatt hours = 90,000,000 watt seconds.
    If you want that in 10 seconds, you'd need a 9 Megawatt outlet.

  • by Abreu ( 173023 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:02PM (#27159703)

    yeah, wtf with the strange units?

  • by junglebeast ( 1497399 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:04PM (#27159715)
    The article describes a new technology for speedy discharge of batteries which is not the same as charging
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:08PM (#27159781)

    Because of the electronic punch that they pack, gram for gram, lithium-ion batteries are the most common rechargeable batteries found in consumer electronics, such as laptops. However, they take a long time to charge and researchers have assumed until now that there was a speed limit on the lithium ions and electrons that pass through the batteries to form an electrochemical circuit. The problem with existing lithium-ion batteries is the way ions passed through minuscule tunnels [], whose entrances are present at the surface of the material. The team discovered that to get into these channels, the ions had to be positioned directly in front of the tunnel entrances - if they were not, they could not get through. The solution found by Gerbrand Ceder at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was to engineer the material such that it has a so-called "beltway" that guides the ions towards the tunnel entrances. A small cellphone battery can be recharged in just 10 seconds [] thanks to the improved ion flow and a large battery that would be used to power a plug-in hybrid electric car could be recharged in just five minutes, compared to up to six or eight hours at present. Because there are relatively few changes to the standard manufacturing process, Ceder believes the new battery material could make it to market within two to three years.

  • by wooferhound ( 546132 ) <tim.wooferhound@com> on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:17PM (#27159895) Homepage
    Vacuum cleaners are rated in "Amps" of power. you don't have a good vacuum unless it's rated at 10 amps or more. Of course this leads vacuum companies to design really inefficient motors that pull huge amounts of energy just to get the Amp Rating up high.
  • by momerath2003 ( 606823 ) * on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:18PM (#27159903) Journal

    You probably would want capacitors for those, with other pulse-shaping devices. In fact, this is what they actually do. Ten seconds of discharge is way too slow for a rail gun.

  • by NeverVotedBush ( 1041088 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:28PM (#27160063)
    I don't think the ability to drain the battery in such a short time is the point. It's in delivering high current easily.

    Lots of loads pull a lot of current initially or periodically. One example would be an electric motor since they talk about applications such as hybrids. The stall current is limited by the resistance of the windings but once it spins up, reverse voltage in the motor limits the current to much lower values. If it was a motor under a heavy load, the current could be much higher.

    Another point is that in any high current circuit, the power wasted in the circuit as heat can be very high. It's current squared times resistance. With batteries that have a high internal resistance, that power heats the battery and is also power that's wasted. With a high current delivery capability, these would have very low internal resistance and under heavy loads, the batteries would run cooler and would be able to deliver more power to the actual load instead of throwing it away as heat.

    This really is an accomplishment and a valuable one.

    Just to illustrate battery self heating - if you ever get stranded in extreme cold because your battery doesn't have the power available to turn the engine over, just turn on the headlights for a while. It's a medium load but will heat the battery from the inside due to internal resistance and make the battery better able to start the car. This really works.
  • by Snowblindeye ( 1085701 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:33PM (#27160119)

    what the heck is the point of a battery can run 20 vacuum cleaners, for only 10 seconds?

    But it also means that you can *charge* it in 10 seconds. How nice it that. One problem for plug-in electric cars is that they take long to charge. If charging it doesn't take longer than filling up a tank of gas, that would be a step forward.

  • Re:25,000 Watts (Score:3, Informative)

    by puetzk ( 98046 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:46PM (#27160267) Homepage

    No, watts are correct. The thing that's special about this battery isn't the capacity, it's the rapid charge/discharge.

  • Re:charging (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jimmy_B ( 129296 ) <slashdot@jimran[ ] ['dom' in gap]> on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:55PM (#27160355) Homepage
    From the BBC article [] on the same topic:

    A prototype battery made using the new technique could be charged in less than 20 seconds - in comparison to six minutes with an untreated sample of the material.

    So it sounds like fast charging has been developed, and it's just a matter of taking orders and tooling the factories at this point.

  • by atomicthumbs ( 824207 ) <atomicthumbs @ g m> on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:56PM (#27160371) Homepage
    Critical hit! It's super effective! END USER fainted!
  • Re:charging (Score:2, Informative)

    by flibbajobber ( 949499 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:49PM (#27160909)
    It's only like capacitors in that the discharge is fast. This is still a chemical cell, unlike capacitors which store energy in electric fields. Chemical batteries still have faaaar higher energy density (Wh per kg) than capacitors.
  • by flibbajobber ( 949499 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:54PM (#27160963)
    Chemical batteries still have much higher energy density (Wh per kg) than capacitors - about ten times higher. That's not to say that supercaps combined with traditional batteries wouldn't solve such problems - they probably could in cases where you have a low average discharge, but high burst discharge. These new cells would be capable of sustaining high average discharge.
  • by Firehed ( 942385 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @10:39PM (#27161317) Homepage

    I see the electrical equivalent of load balancing coming into play to address that issue. Just because a battery is physically capable of accepting a full charge in a few seconds doesn't mean that it must.

    I'm sure that's also awful for battery life - a lot of NiMH batteries at least (I can't speak for other types as I have no idea) can accept fast and slow charges, but the 15-minute rapid chargers take a lot of lifetime off the battery as compared to a four-hour trickle charge.

  • by qkslvr846 ( 925002 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @10:52PM (#27161417)
    "Ultimately, the energy capacity of lithium iron phosphate is lower than that of other lithium-ion battery materials, making Ceder's advance of limited value, says Jeff Dahn, a professor of physics at Dalhousie University, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. This battery is good for acceleration, but not as much for long range."

    Emphasis mine. As has been pointed out above, the practical use for rapid-discharge is in conjunction with other types of high-density storage. I envision it as analogous to the RAM and HDD paradigm.
  • by TClevenger ( 252206 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @11:45PM (#27161897)
    That's for the included on-board charger, which is limited by the 110 volt, 15 amp circuit it would plug into. The "high power" 220 volt charger sitting in the garage can charge the same battery in as little as 3 hours.
  • by Muad'Dave ( 255648 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @10:12AM (#27166293) Homepage
    I've never heard of a 10A circuit or receptacle. Many outlets in the US are supplied via a 20A branch circuit using #12 copper, but are wired with 15A receptacles. This is legal according to the NEC code. The remainder are supplied via a 15A branch circuit using #14 copper. The 15A receptacles have the typical 'I I' look to them. 20A receptacles look more like 'I- I' where the neutral blade has a Tee shape. A 20A plug has the neutral lead rotated 90 degrees, so it'll fit in a 20A receptacle but not a 15A one. Similarly, a 15A plug will mate with a 20A receptacle. This chart [] shows various NEMA plug and receptacle configurations.

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