Breakthrough for traction batteries? Ultra-fast battery charges in 2 minutes

October 17, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Range anxiety is still one of the most powerful inhibitors for widespread acceptance of electric vehicles. But if it would not take longer to recharge a battery than to fill a gasoline tank, this obstacle could fall. A research team from Singapore's Nanyang Technology University (NTU) could have the solution: The scientists developed a battery that can be recharged up to 70% of its capacity in just 2 minutes.

The quick recharging cycle is not the only significant advantage of the new battery. It also endures 10.000 charging cycles - 10 to 20 times more than available lithium-ion batteries. Such batteries for use in electric vehicles typically last about 500 recharge cycles, sometimes more, but never nearly as many cycles as the NTU battery promises.

In their battery, the NTU researchers replaced the graphite traditionally used for the anode with a gel material based on titanium dioxide, an abundant, affordable and safe material found in the soil. Naturally found in spherical shape, the NTU team has devised a way to transform the titanium dioxide into nanotubes a thousand times thinner than a human hair. This speeds up the chemical reactions taking place in the battery and allow for super-fast charging.

Developed by Associate Professor Chen Xiaodong from NTU's School of Materials Science and Engineering, the science behind the formation of the new titanium dioxide gel was published it the scientific journal 'Advanced Materials'. According to the team, the patented technology has already attracted interest from the industry and is currently licensed to a commercial company for eventual production. While Chen did not specify the name of the licensee, he expresses his belief that the fast-charging batteries will be available within the next two years. The global market for lithium-ion batteries is estimated to about $23.4 billion in 2016.

The novel energy storage could have the potential to overcome longstanding power issues related to electromobility. "Electric cars will be able to increase their range dramatically, with just five minutes of charging," Chen said. Plus, they could significantly contribute to reduce the amount of toxic waste by generated by disposed batteries since the new batteries last ten times longer.

The 10,000-cycle life of the new battery also means that customers of electric vehicles would save on the cost of battery replacements, the other major inhibitor for the acceptance of EVs. Currently