Better batteries for electric cars

A team of engineers at Northwestern University say they have created a new electrode for lithium-ion batteries that will allow cells to hold up to 10 times as much charge and recharge 10 times faster than current battery technology.

The researchers combined a number of new chemical engineering approaches in order to tackle battery limitations such as power capacity and the rate of charge. The group also said that the technology could also be useful for reducing the battery load in electric cars.

Professor Harold Kung’s research team found a way to combine high-capacity silicon sandwiched between the graphene sheets which allows for the volume changes of silicon during use which has previously stymied attempts to use silicon.

"Now we almost have the best of both worlds," Kung said. "We have much higher energy density because of the silicon, and the sandwiching reduces the capacity loss caused by the silicon expanding and contracting." The technology could arrive in commercial batteries within the next three to five years.