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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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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:44PM (#27159441)

    ...how many libraries of congress per square inch is that, again?

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Abreu ( 173023 )

      yeah, wtf with the strange units?

      • Was that 25,000 Watt-seconds?
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by puetzk ( 98046 )

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

          • But I thought the only thing that could put out that many watts so quickly, is a lightning bolt!

            Wait'll the Libyans hear about this!

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

        What high drain device are you ever going to want to run for that short a time? If you can drain a high power LiIon in 90 seconds, what's the point of making it drain faster?

        Unless you're wanting to us a battery to ignite a thermite charge, I don't see an application for this at all....

        • 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.
          • Could these issues be solved with capacitors? They would be more efficient then batteries - regardless of any foreseeable improvements to battery tech. And with the development of super-capacitors, it would not take much of a capacitor to get the job done.

            So I thing that charge time does have a big role to play in this announcement. Delivering high current easily is a problem that was solved a long time ago. But the problem of quickly and safely charging a battery is still very relevant.

        • 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.

          • Another good point!

            Wired ran a story recently on the Tesla roadster and mentioned the time to fully charge the battery - it was some 37 hours.

            They figure it wouldn't that big of an issue, though, since most will drive short distances and the charges will be partial charges that don't take nearly as long.

            I think in practice, anyone who wants to do much driving in their Tesla is going to find that long charge time a bit frustrating.
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by TClevenger ( 252206 )
              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.
        • Say you have a train or tram which draws power from the grid to accelerate then turns kinetic energy into heat to stop. If it can dump power into batteries fast it can save power overall.
        • I thought the same thing...

          From the summary: "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..."

          Um, isn't that the point? In fact, isn't it a goal to have a "longer lasting" battery?

          If a knowledgeable person can clarify why this is a BOO-YAA moment, I would really appreciate it. I read the article (I know, please don't hold it against me), and will conce

          • by hardburn ( 141468 ) <hardburn&wumpus-cave,net> on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:02PM (#27160435)

            Fast recharge and discharge go hand-in-hand. This will particularly improve the range of electric/hybrid cars, since regenerative breaking is limited right now by how fast the battery can take in all that power.

            I don't see it improving the overall charge time of a car from a household plug, though. The limit there is that 120VAC just isn't enough. You can double up a circuit to get 240VAC, and in fact high draw appliances (like electric dryers) often already do in the US.

            If dealerships are smart, they'll contract the services of local electricians to put a 240VAC plug in customers' garages and roll the cost into the overall financing.

            • by sunspot42 ( 455706 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @02:30AM (#27162931)

              I don't see it improving the overall charge time of a car from a household plug, though.

              Why not? Just install another battery pack at home, and keep it charged up at all times. It could then be used to quick-charge your car(s).

              It could also be used as backup power during a blackout, or maybe even to supply home power during those times of day when electric rates are especially high. You could charge it from the grid (especially during those times of day when rates are low), from solar cells on your roof or from a wind turbine.

      • 25kW is about 33.5 horsepower; a bit over a million foot-pounds per minute. About a quarter of a furlong-cwt per hr, more or less.

    • Can I get that in Hoover dams? I just can't comprehend the magnitude of this development.
    • by NotQuiteReal ( 608241 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:06PM (#27160471) Journal
      You should think more along the lines of a Beowulf Cluster of Roombas.
  • by DigitalReverend ( 901909 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:44PM (#27159449)
    That sucks.
    • 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...

      • I'm fairly surprised to hear that vacuum cleaners use that much power

        Have you ever noticed the lights dim when you turn one on? Vacuum pumps, especially ones that have to suck air through a bag filled with dust and lint, are pretty power hungry.

      • But keep in mind, the first second is going to be startup, which, for an electric motor, can sometimes draw twice as much current as when it's running. That's going to skew your average significantly when you're only talking about a 10 second runtime.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by wooferhound ( 546132 )
        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.
    • Most vacuums do.
    • Especially trying to find the right algorithm to use to suck the maximum the area during 10 seconds for 20 instances. Would that be a blow-by-blow algorithm?
    • That sucks

      But not for long.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      20 vacuum cleaners for 10 seconds?

      That sucks.

      How many yomamas is that?

  • by icebike ( 68054 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:45PM (#27159455)

    > deliver 25,000 watts, or enough power for about 20 vacuum cleaners."

    What could possibly go wrong with that!!??

    • The image of terrorists attacking a civic building with 20 vacuum cleaners is a funny one.

      Especially if it's 20 vacuum cleaners each.

      • That's quite an EMP.

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      > deliver 25,000 watts, or enough power for about 20 vacuum cleaners."

      What could possibly go wrong with that!!??

      We could be attacked by an army of rebel housewives.

    • new electric bass boat, the Chevy Fibrillator ...

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      A lot for people who don't treat them with the proper respect.

      That kind of short circuit current would probably amputate fingers if someone shorted one with a ring, melt metal in seconds (or less), and depending on the circuit, could possibly create enough of a magnetic field to launch that molten metal across a room (think rail guns).

      High fault currents can lead to a whole range of bizarre effects. People will need to take off jewelry and should wear gloves and safety glasses when handling them. Also
    • You might want to consider that 25,000 watts is about 34 horsepower. Not exactly a large amount of power.

  • by NaCh0 ( 6124 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:47PM (#27159495)

    Great, by the time I have backed out of the driveway I'll need to recharge it.

    • Think about it (Score:5, Interesting)

      by jeffmeden ( 135043 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:07PM (#27159759) Homepage Journal

      Actually, the big thing about electric driving isn't getting started in the first place, it's reclaiming the energy when you have to stop (at least for inner city driving.) If you have a battery that is bordering on a supercapacitor to dump energy into, you can reclaim nearly all of the stopping energy into the battery to use to start again. Given that there are 745 watts/hp, a battery capable of a charge rate of 25KW gives you 33 horsepower of braking capacity with one cell. Get 3 of them in a car and you can reclaim 100hp during a stop, which would be good for all but the most grueling emergency stops (depending on the weight of the car).

    • It would be good for a 1/4 mile drag racer, but you'd have to push it back to the starting line....

    • I suggest you read some basic physics. You can burn your entire fuel tank in 10 seconds too, if you wanted to.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:47PM (#27159505)
    for about 10 sec.
  • being able to charge in 10 seconds would mean you could fuel an electric car as fast as a gasoline one. i hope this is for real
    • 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.
      • Re:charging (Score:5, Funny)

        by Repton ( 60818 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:21PM (#27159949) Homepage

        All you need is a wall socket that can deliver 25,000W!

        Note to self: pick up some 100A fuses on the way home.

        • All you need is a wall socket that can deliver 25,000W!

          Note to self: pick up some 100A fuses on the way home.

          Have a big battery in the house as a cache. Good for backups as well.

        • Re:charging (Score:5, Funny)

          by Rufty ( 37223 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:58PM (#27161025) Homepage
          In the fuse draw of a local college electronics lab I found a length of 6inch nail lovingly cut to length with cleaned ends, painted round the middle with the designation "10000A, slow-blow" (Apparently one of the techs had a dead scope that couldn't be powered up - it just blew the fuse. Hence the nail. Bung it in and now you know where the hard short *was*. It's the melted patch with the smoke coming out...)
      • It sounds to me like a variant on capacitors, but the question as you put it is, has this really been achieved, or is this still vaporware. People have been working on this for quite a while, and nobody's been able to do it. I'm sure they will some day, but right now there needs to be a proper citation.

        And for a car, it would likely take a huge number of cells and a huge amount of juice to work.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jimmy_B ( 129296 )
        From the BBC article [bbc.co.uk] 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 icebike ( 68054 )

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

      • just have a very bank of batteries at the gas station underground that can discharge that fast into the car, and the bank can be charged at reasonable amperages from the power line. sort of like gas stations are made today, but with batteries instead of tanks.
      • 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.

        • Maybe we could fuel it with lightning or something till someone makes a Mr. Fusion......

        • Political slogan from the next election:

          A car in every driveway.... A chicken in every pot.... A Mr. Fusion for every gas station...

        • You are right, well mostly. This cell supposedly charges in 10 seconds, but I doubt that they'd hook it up in such a way that you needed a 9 megawatt outlet. More likely they'd design for a 4 hour charge, which would be a much more reasonable figure.

          For most people, they'd probably set it up so that you only had to charge it for an hour and were limited to only 25 miles, which would be fine for most people, especially since they'd have the ability to leave it charge all night and get the full range.

          Or even

          • The Tesla can already charge in less than 4 if you have a 240V plug. But if you want much faster than that, the battery technology needs to improve.

            Assuming this tech works out, you'll see current gas stations get a flywheel for energy storage and charge the battery in a few minutes.

  • The cyclon X cells I used to power a robot I built a few years back can deliver 500 amps -- enough to melt a 10 gauge wire I accidentally dropped across the terminals. Not bad for something about four times the heft of a D cell. The claim sounds like hype, since it's energy density, not discharge rate that everyone is trying to ramp up lately.
  • Boom!!! (Score:5, Funny)

    by owlnation ( 858981 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:55PM (#27159621)
    Where does the heat go on rapid discharge?

    Or is this the Sony method of rapid discharge?
    • I came here to post this. Isn't a big problem with LiIon heat=explosion? With power dissipation like that, I'd imagine massive heat...
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by LehiNephi ( 695428 )
        The 25kW is power delivered by the battery to a load, not power dissipated by the battery. Granted, given the amount of current involved and the inherent internal resistance of the battery, there'll be a fair amount of power dissipated in the battery itself, but it would be a fairly small percentage of the 25kW
      • I would imagine the very reason it can be discharged so fast is exactly because it has less heat problems (due to less internal resistance).

    • These batteries would be ~99% efficient, thus limiting the heat from rapid discharge.

      Though you might have to do what the Tesla Roadster does have have forced air cooling or some such.

  • c'mon, boys (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @07:56PM (#27159639)

    a page of comments and no one has yet said:

    "10 seconds? the average /. geek discharges faster than that"


  • The article describes a new technology for speedy discharge of batteries which is not the same as charging
  • Armageddon (Score:5, Funny)

    by GottliebPins ( 1113707 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:07PM (#27159755)
    Wow, now we can expect to see spectacular laptop fires hot enough to burn through an engine block. Where can I get some of those batteries? Sony?
  • by rossz ( 67331 )

    Back in my day we called those "capacitors".

    Now get off my lawn!

  • by Alain Williams ( 2972 ) <addw@phcomp.co.uk> on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:13PM (#27159857) Homepage
    My last laptop battery was faster than this after a few years, it would completely discharge in 5 seconds, not a slow 10 seconds!
  • "In testing, batteries incorporating the electrodes discharged in just 10 seconds."

    Sweet, now my laptop will get up to a full 10 seconds of use until I have to recharge!

  • by Mr Z ( 6791 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:38PM (#27160175) Homepage Journal

    Anyone else notice this from the article?

    To improve the batteries, the researchers modified an electrode material called lithium iron phosphate . . . The models suggested a way to improve conductivity by directing lithium ions toward particular faces of crystals within the material.

    To exploit this, Ceder included extra lithium and phosphorus. This helps form a layer of lithium diphosphate, a material known for its high lithium-ion conductivity.

    Wouldn't it be something if someone trademarks this use of lithium diphosphate on targeted crystal faces as, oh, I dunno, dilithium crystals?

    First, transparent aluminum, [wikipedia.org] and now this!

    • by localroger ( 258128 ) on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @09:25PM (#27160657) Homepage
      I suspect dilithium came from a hint dropped in somebody's ear that regular old lithium was a critical component of hydrogen bombs. But just as regular old triticale, a grain that actually exists, wasn't good enough for Star Trek and so had to be supervened by quadrotriticale in The Trouble with Tribbles, the critical element lithium without which hydrogen bombs couldn't be made probably had to be expanded to dilithium to meet the demands of starship engines. (It's never occurred to me before now but I guess if they ever had to do it again it would have been octo-something.)
    • by pgn674 ( 995941 ) on Thursday March 12, 2009 @03:58AM (#27163383) Homepage
      Wow, boy do I love the internet.

      So, Slashdot just recently had the Could Fuller Take Trek Back To TV? [slashdot.org] and What Has Fox Got Against Its Own Sci-Fi Shows? [slashdot.org] articles, then this one, which I can imagine influenced Mr Z to notice the dilithium crystal Star Trek connection. So he linked to the related Wikipedia transparent aluminum article, and I followed that link. In that article's In Fiction section, it is mentioned that the Enterprise D's windows are made of transparent aluminum, as noted in an episode that involved subspace anomalies and hull breaches.

      This reminded me of a TNG episode I saw when I was a small child watching TV with my dad. All I could remember from the episode was a lady looking frozen and half way through the floor, and I was scared silly that I would fall through the floor right there in the living room. Just last week I had actually thought of that episode and tried searching for it, unsuccessfully. That one part and E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial are the few childhood memories I have of TV scaring me. I wanted to see what the episode looked like to me now.

      So I followed the Wikipedia link to the TNG episode [wikipedia.org], and the description of the episode matched what I remembered. So I quickly found a torrent for the episode (I would never ever actually buy the DVD online just to watch one episode once to satisfy my curiosity. If it was streamed online by the copyright holder with ads I would probably go that route), downloaded it, and watched the episode. I finally saw that childhood fear with grown up eyes.

      And that's why I love the internet. I was reading a news site, read a comment that referenced some interesting sounding technology, and stumbled upon a childhood fear that I had tried searching for only a week before. Then I reexperienced the fear initiator as I am now to see how I would perceive it. Now I am writing about my experience and attaching it to the original comment that started it. And I did all this within a short and entertaining time span. I love the internet. I think this shows that, at least in some way, we are living in an age of awesomeness.
  • by atomicthumbs ( 824207 ) <atomicthumbs@g[ ]l.com ['mai' in gap]> on Wednesday March 11, 2009 @08:56PM (#27160371) Homepage
    Critical hit! It's super effective! END USER fainted!

"Nuclear war can ruin your whole compile." -- Karl Lehenbauer