Lithium-ion battery pack of 2011 Nissan Leaf, showing cells assembled into modules
An advance in battery technology could help push past one of the persistent criticisms of electric vehicles: the extended time needed to charge the battery.
Researchers at the University of Illinois published a paper in Nature Nanotechnology on a change to the cathode of a battery that allows for rapid charging and discharging without a loss of capacity. They describe it in their abstract as follows:
We demonstrate very large battery charge and discharge rates with minimal capacity loss by using cathodes made from a self-assembled three-dimensional bicontinuous nanoarchitecture consisting of an electrolytically active material sandwiched between rapid ion and electron transport pathways.
The 3-D structure could eventually allow electric cars to charge in the time it takes to fill a tank with gas. Senior author Paul Braun said in a story published at ClimateWire and Scientific American that batteries in the lab can be charged in "tens of seconds."
The lithium-ion batteries used in today's electric cars generally take hours to charge fully using 240-Volt charging stations. For example, Nissan says that charging the 2011 Leaf (battery pack pictured above) at home will take about 7 hours; Chevrolet says the 2011 Volt can recharge in about 4 hours.
Quick-charge stations, where existing batteries can be refilled in shorter periods, will need to provide more power if the new battery type's rapid-charge abilities are to be used fully.
This story, written by Dave Levitan, was originally posted on IEEE Spectrum, an editorial partner of High Gear Media.