New batteries for electric vehicles charge faster, last longer

U.S. researchers at Northwestern University say they’ve created batteries for portable devices that charge faster and last 10 times longer.

By combining two methods, Professor Harold Kung and his team members created lithium-ion batteries they said could make a smartphone run for a week on an 8-minute charge, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Friday.

The batteries, still two to five years from commercial production, could transform the electric car industry, which is hampered by limited mileage ranges and lengthy charging times, Kung said.

Conventional lithium-ion batteries charge by sending lithium ions between the two ends of the battery, the anode and the cathode. By sandwiching a layer of silicone between the graphene sheets used to construct the anode, the battery can reliably hold far more lithium ions, increasing its capacity, Kung said.

And by making tiny holes in the graphene sheets, the ions can travel back to the anode more quickly, drastically reducing the recharging time, he said.

"The challenge to supply and store energy in an clean and sustainable way is very exciting and important," he said. "We just need to take one or two more steps down the road," he said.