Batteries for electric vehicles that charge in 15 minutes

A new innovation in the anode electrode of a lithium battery may change the face of rechargeable batteries forever. The discovery, reported in the journal Advanced Energy Materials, will allow the anode electrode in a lithium-ion battery to charge up to 10 times longer and 10 times faster, according to Harold Kung, a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern University.

Kung and his team of researchers found they were able to increase the energy density — or in other words how much energy you could put in as well as how fast you can put it in and take it out — in the anode electrode by changing its internal structure.

By putting silicon in-between the graphite sheets in a lithium-ion battery it turns out you can store 10 times more energy, Kung explained in a telephone interview with the Star.

And then by using a nanometre-sized hose throughout the graphite sheets, it makes it much easier to take energy out and put it in, resulting in the battery charging much faster.

Since the publication of his paper and publicity about the research, Kung has been inundated with offers for commercialization and from venture capitalists wanting to help manufacture the new battery.

Kung hopes that it could be ready as soon as three years from now. In the short-term the new kind of battery could change the time smart phones and computers need to charge up.

But Kung and others have a bigger dream in mind. He’s hoping that this new rechargeable battery with more storage and faster recharge time could help revolutionize the use of electric cars.

“If you have an electric car you don’t have to recharge every 60 miles (96.5 kilometres) of usage, but could run it for 600 kilometres, the electric car become a lot more convenient to use.

“You don’t have to charge it at home, but could pull up to a gas station and recharge in 15 minutes. The hurdle of consumers accepting electric cars would become less.”

Kung feels his new invention will help decrease the world’s dependence on fossil fuels, both lowering the carbon emissions in the atmosphere and reducing dependence on import oil.

“A good battery not only can be used to facilitate the adoption of electric cars, but can also be used to store electricity created from renewable resources such as solar energy and wind power.

“If you have a simple way to store that electricity, our electricity generation can rely on those renewable resources more heavily.”