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Power Technology

Huawei Battery Upgrade Means Dramatically Faster Charging For Mobile Devices 75

Computerworld reports a welcome development for everyone with battery powered portable electronics, which might just have applications further afield, too (like electric cars): Huawei has developed a battery based on conventional lithium-ion chemistry but tweaked with the addition of graphite atoms bonded to the anode. From the article: That change means faster charging but not at the expense of usage life or a sacrifice in the amount of energy that can be stored in each battery, [the company] said. It was developed by Huawei research and development subsidiary Watt Lab and the company showed off two prototypes in videos posted online. One of the two batteries has a capacity of 3,000mAh (milliampere hours) -- about equivalent to the batteries in modern smartphones -- and can be charged to 48 percent of capacity in five minutes. The second has a much smaller capacity of 600mAh but reaches 68 percent of capacity in just two minutes.
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Huawei Battery Upgrade Means Dramatically Faster Charging For Mobile Devices

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  • All these days I hear about batteries having more power, charging faster, and so on. Do these developments make it actually into consumer products? Never. I guess they get abandoned because of some problems.

    I do think that thanks to the abundant use of rechargeable battery technology, and whole industries like the car industry waiting to get "disrupted" (to use the new SV startup term; its a phenomenon as old as mankind) by battery driven solutions, so there is alot of attention on the technology. However,

    • by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @03:01AM (#50933627)

      They do get better
      I have a 4850mAh lithium battery in my RC car that can discharge a peak of 630A and 315A continuously. That's 100% to 0% in less than a minute.

    • by AK Marc ( 707885 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @03:32AM (#50933687)
      http://www.oppo.com/en/technol... [oppo.com] Faster charging doesn't make it into consumer products? 30 minutes for 75% charge. Though I find it charges faster than that (about twice as fast), but they don't advertise the best case, they advertise the worst case, so they'll always meet it.

      The problems with heat were there, but were evidently solved well enough to sell it. And in over a year of use, the battery is holding up much better than my Galaxy S3 did after a year. Though I noticed a drop in standby time after one of the Android updates, but I even reverted to verify it was the update, not age that caused it to drop to standby under 48 hours.
    • by AHuxley ( 892839 )
      The power tools, garden tools, battery pack accessories market always likes the idea of more power, less recharge time at a site per interchangeable power pack. Cell phone users, dslr, led camera lights, small flash systems, camera slider systems used away from mains power might like more power, quicker for a creative project.
    • Have you been asleep? Around 1990, a rechargable AA battery had 500 mAh capacity, took 14 hours to charge and had memory effect issues (NiCd, remember?). These days AA means 2500 mAh NiMH rechargable in under 1 hour. Li-ion is even better but generally not available in AA (cell chemistry means a much higher voltage per cell).
      So that's 2 entirely new battery chemistries and a 5-fold increase in capacity.

      Also, you may not want to read about early research, but I do. If you want nothing but product announcements, go read manufacturer press releases instead of coming to Slashdot.

      • Also, you may not want to read about early research, but I do. If you want nothing but product announcements, go read manufacturer press releases instead of coming to Slashdot.

        Battery History and physics is a fascinating subject. And once you know about the physics involved: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

        http://chemwiki.ucdavis.edu/An... [ucdavis.edu]

        You can see we aren't even close to done yet. OP has no clue about battery advances, Compared to even five years ago, we've come quite a way.

        But once we pay attention to the physics, and not Top Gear or disgruntled NYT reviewers, there are real reasons to get excited about the potential of electric vehicles.

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        "These days AA means 2500 mAh NiMH rechargable in under 1 hour."

        Physics says no to that when your charger only outputs 1Ah.

        • If you have a charger that only outputs 1Ah, why do you still have it? Does it output 1Ah every time you plug it in, or just the one time? Either way, end that madness and get a decent 2A charger: http://www.thomasdistributing.... [thomasdistributing.com]

      • "5-fold increase in capacity."

        Compared to other advances in electronics, 5x over 25 years is terrible. Even combining with the 14x charge rate gives a doubling at longer than 4 years.

    • In my completely (full disclosure) anecdotal opinion yes, these technologies DO make it into consumer products, but the change seems to be incremental, not all at once. So I've seen batteries get better over time, but I've never purchased a product with a battery that is a game changer.
    • Yeah they do. Especially the ones that improves the rate at which you can charge your battery.

      It is better for the phone maker if you have a relatively low capacity battery with rapid charging than a high capacity battery with slow charging, since the former will be charged a lot more often and will get a lot hotter when it is charged and will therefore wear out a lot sooner, which will prompt you to buy a new phone.

      Sony is the one company that is consistently doing the opposite of this, by making high-end

  • How is this a fair comparison?

    I can sell you a 0mAh battery that'll reach 100% of capacity in zero seconds.

    • The smaller battery has less surface area.
      There is probably some other limiting factor that's restricting the charge current. The 3000mAh is being charged at 18A and the 600mAh at 12A.
      If I had to guess it would be heat. A smaller battery has a larger surface area to volume and the internal structures have less material between them and the surface, so a lower thermal resistance.

    • It ISN'T 3000 vs 600. They have developed BOTH. the 3000mAH charges to around 50% in 5 mins, while the smaller one charges to 68% in 2 mins. Both are a huge leap forward. depending on exact times for charge they are actually both charging at similar rates, the larger one slightly faster.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by phantomfive ( 622387 )
      You misread. It's ok, I made the same mistake the first time I read it: it's poorly written.

      Look at the times though....both of those phones were charged to ~50% in five minutes. That's some fast charging. (Why didn't they report the time to a total charge? I don't know).

      Stanford also developed a kind of fast-charging battery recently, using aluminum-ion cells. This is something a lot of people are researching, so eventually one of the ideas is going to make it into consumer products. It's just a matt
      • Look at the times though....both of those phones were charged to ~50% in five minutes. That's some fast charging. (Why didn't they report the time to a total charge? I don't know).

        It's standard marketing procedure to recognize a weak point and pretend like it doesn't exist, being careful never to voluntarily mention it. I don't know if that's what happened here, but Huawei is a corporation with a Marketing department, and this is such a widespread practice as to be my default assumption unless compelling independent evidence to the contrary is presented.

      • Look at the times though....both of those phones were charged to ~50% in five minutes. That's some fast charging. (Why didn't they report the time to a total charge? I don't know).

        Because we now have an attention span less than a goldfish

        http://time.com/3858309/attent... [time.com]

        5 minutes is inconceivable to today's smartphone addicted. A total charge? Might as well be to the end of the universe. Call them back when charging time is 5 seconds, and they might comprehend (5 seconds is within the thought focusing of 8 seconds the modern person has)

  • Pedantic but... (Score:4, Informative)

    by FrankSchwab ( 675585 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @03:09AM (#50933641) Journal

    Even though it's in the original FA, I wouldn't expect a competent editor here to let "graphite atoms" by. Sheesh.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. Why use graphite atoms when you can get diamond atoms for the same price. Don't know about you but I would much prefer diamond atoms in my batteries.

    • Apparently, there is a difference. This paper [indiana.edu] for instance lists graphite and carbon separately as anode materials. So I'd guess the "crystal" structure of the various forms of carbon does make a difference.

      • You missed the point. Graphite is a molecular structure, not a type of atom.

        TFA has it like this:
        "The battery is based on the same lithium ion chemistry used in cellphone batteries today but gets its advantage from atoms of graphite bonded to the anode, Huawei said on Friday at an industry conference in Japan."

        It is still unnecessarily misleading and badly written, but in that sentence they are probably (or hopefully) referring to the thickness of the layer of graphite.

        • No, they're taking advantage of the different molecular structures possible with carbon. Which (and that was my point) means it does make sense to talk about graphite vs. carbon, even if they get the word 'atom' wrong.

          Quoting an answer from elsewhere in the discussion:
          "Introducing extra carbon atoms into the graphite anode to create artificial fault sites in the graphene sheets, allowing lithium ions to enter through those locations into the interlayer space instead of having to enter from the sides of the

          • Which (and that was my point) means it does make sense to talk about graphite vs. carbon, even if they get the word 'atom' wrong.

            No, it doesn't.
            'Graphite vs. amorphous (or non-crystalline) carbon' is fine. 'Graphite vs. carbon' is nonsensical.

            Also, the whole point was that they got the word atom wrong. Neither OP nor I ever implied that the distinction between graphite and amorphous carbon is irrelevant here. Please keep your straw men to yourself.

      • by Khyber ( 864651 )

        The problem is the word ATOM.

        "the basic unit of a chemical element."

        Carbon is the basic unit. Graphite is a MOLECULE - comprised of connected carbon atoms.

  • by thegarbz ( 1787294 ) on Sunday November 15, 2015 @04:04AM (#50933731)

    Wake me when vendors actually agree on a common way of drawing the required power from the USB chargers. Sure there's a standard published but when will vendors actually follow the current standard, or in the case of Apple follow any standard at all.

    • Wake me when vendors actually agree on a common way of drawing the required power from the USB chargers. Sure there's a standard published but when will vendors actually follow the current standard, or in the case of Apple follow any standard at all.

      uhh,,,what? not an apple fanboi here, but why does apple need to follow a standard? standards are for companies who are selling products in a competitive market place, but don't want to have to compete on *everything.* Since Apple is really not competing in the same space as LG, Samsung, Motorola, et al, they do not need to follow every standard adopted by those other companies or even a fraction of those standards. standards promote interoperability between market competitors, and that is it, full sto

      • Who said competition with other companies?

        How about Apple is a company who provides a USB charger which doesn't follow the USB charging spec?
        They aren't alone in this either.

        • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

          Who said competition with other companies?

          How about Apple is a company who provides a USB charger which doesn't follow the USB charging spec?
          They aren't alone in this either.

          In what way doesn't it follow the USB spec? Apple's USB charger implements the USB power spec exactly - it will deliver 500 mA at 5V DC to any USB device plugged into it, exactly as the spec requires.

          It can also break the spec and deliver more current (1 amp) to an iPhone or iPad, or any other device that behaves the same way by measuring the resistance across the data pins. Many other types of USB chargers also do this since 500 mA is pretty low and when the spec was implemented it was never imagined that

          • Apple's USB charger implements the USB power spec exactly

            No it doesn't. There's resistance on the line that is not compatible with the USB charging spec. So devices that can fast charge from their USB chargers don't, and using any generic USB charging port doesn't work with Apple devices either.

            Thought I wonder if they will actually keep this up since it's slowly becoming in vogue for houses to have USB sockets in the walls for charging. Currently our Apple devices are the only ones which don't even attempt to draw the rated current from sockets which meet the US

            • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

              Part right. The spec allows the delivery of max 1.5A by detection of shorted D+/D- lines. (the iDevices don't comply with this). The spec does not allow at all for measuring resistances despite the fact that Sony, Apple, Samsung, etc all implement this in their chargers. But quite critically at least some of them (Samsung) correctly implement enumeration of the charger to determine the maximum current draw, as per the standard.

              And the reason is, guess what? Shorting D+/D- says UP TO 1.5A.

              Which means really,

              • And the reason is, guess what? Shorting D+/D- says UP TO 1.5A.
                Which means really, you can't draw that much anyways because if the user plugs you into a device that only provides 500mA, guess what? You can only draw that.

                Which is why I don't see why the USB folks didn't take a page from Apple and use their spec, because shoring D+/D- says absolutely nothing about how much current you can draw. And I've seen rather ... explosive ... results from devices that tried to draw 1.5A from a charger incapable of doing so.

                At one point, it was 500mA. At another point, it was 800mA. Now it's 1.5A.

                Nope, nope and yep. Shorted datalines have only ever meant a charger is capable of providing 1.5A, no less. There was no facility to short USB datalines before 2007 with the release of BC1.1 without breaking the USB spec in the process.

                As a spec, it sucks - it means I can't tell how much current I can draw. And there's way too many made-in-china crap with a USB port that makes it risky to assume you can draw 1.5A from them. If you say the user must use the same charger with the device, that eliminates the whole reason to standardize.

                At least the Apple spec tells you electrically. And there are many devices where it says "2A" on the plate but the resistors say 500mA.

                I don't know why you would you would praise the Apple spec which relies on a set of specific resistances when the inclusion of those resistances will mean that a device is either capable of acting as a dedicated charging port, or a standard downstream port, but not both. The

    • Wake me when vendors actually agree on a common way of drawing the required power from the USB chargers. Sure there's a standard published but when will vendors actually follow the current standard, or in the case of Apple follow any standard at all.

      Of course this is completely deliberate of Apple to oblige people to buy their cables/chargers regardless of the USB standard - so they will never 'agree' and you will stay asleep forever.

  • What if that 3000mAh battery has 0.001V = 3mWh while that 600mAh has 230V = 128Wh. TFA does not say anything meaningful, just that its author is idiot. Explanation how to read mAh was funny in that context.
    • It's a li-ion chemistry as TFA states, so it's directly comparable to existing li-ion batteries. They're 4.1-4.2 volts per cell nominal depending on the precise details.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    No. Fucksakes. Amp-hours is NOT a unit of energy capacity. It is meaningless without being told the nominal voltage. Ok, so if it's a single (series of) lithium cells it's gonna be 3.7V, but why be ambiguous? The unit we're after Watt-hours, right? Do you pay your electricity bill by fucking Amp-hours? Of course not, that's nonsense.

    When you see the shiny new Anker portable battery pack on amazon rated at 20000mAh for charging your fondle-slab so you can keep burning through the next 10,000 losers on tindr

    • by gb ( 8474 )

      No, but it is a unit of electrical charge - and since it's what bateries are conventionally quoted in, it's not a completely stupid thing for a company to quote when announcing a new battery product.
      Not knowing the output voltage is not really an issue since you can always stack the cells up in series if they don't give you enough emf - just like you do with pretty much anything that takes more than one AA size battery!

    • Bigger numbers are easier to relate to. Let's be honest, which gadget would you rather buy, one with a 4000 mAh battery or another with a 16Wh battery? Simple consumer mathematics will tell you the 4000 mAhssive battery 250 x better than the 16 Whatever battery.
    • "It is meaningless without being told the nominal voltage. "

      The nominal voltage at the terminals is itself pretty meaningless. It varies widely with the current being drawn, the charge remaining in the battery, etc.

      What is pretty stable is the measure of how much charge is in the battery. Note that an ampere is charge per time so that the product of current and time is literally charge. The integral of current drawn over time is much less variable with respect to other conditions, so it really is most meani

  • doesn't a lithium ion battery already have an anode made of graphite?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They generally do.
      Did a bit of digging, and I think I know what they're doing here.
      Introducing extra carbon atoms into the graphite anode to create artificial fault sites in the graphene sheets, allowing lithium ions to enter through those locations into the interlayer space instead of having to enter from the sides of the stack.

  • If you ever have been stuck waiting for an e-cig battery to charge for an hour or more at 500mA USB, you might want something like this.
    Although USB type C might be needed, perhaps not strictly but it would be a good hint that the "Power Delivery" specification be supported. Or doing without, and simply using 3 amps at 5 volts it would be quite good already.

    • by Khyber ( 864651 )

      I've never had that waiting problem as my e-cig works directly from USB. No battery required (or even in the unit itself,) just plug that fucker in and hit the switch.

      Then I've also got a 120w vaporizer built into my tower as well.

    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      not really, not like this.

      your ecig CHARGER and the usb it's connected to can only charge with 500ma. you could buy a charger/battery that does 2 amps. it's just a matter of buying it you know.

      also on mobile phones.. several manufacturers have now different kinds of fast charging.. samsung fast charging ups the voltage for example.. apple uses 2.1amps at 5v.. all these result in much faster charging than at base 5v 500ma.

  • How long until Tesla or someone else uses this? would be kinda cool to *fill up* in 5 minutes like conventional cars.

  • Given Huawei's checkered history with corporate espionage (such as their complete theft of Nortel) and ties to the Chinese government, I'll wait for a better company.

    • Given Huawei's checkered history with corporate espionage ... I'll wait for a better company.

      Surely given their past history you'd expect that this technology actually came from a "better" company :)

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