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Iron phosphate  (Source: MIT)
The new battery isn't ready for commercial development, but it shows great promise

A new battery material created by researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) could lead to much faster recharge times for batteries.

MIT professor Gerbrand Ceder and researcher Byoungwoo Kang said the material can discharge energy and recharge nearly 100 times faster than batteries currently used in mobile phones.  Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in laptops as well, and could allow longer battery life and faster recharge time if a user is away from a power source for long durations of time.

"The ability to charge and discharge batteries in a matter of seconds rather than hours may open up new technological applications and induce lifestyle changes," Ceder and Kang sad in the latest edition of Nature.

The duo created a small battery that normally takes six minutes to charge, but used their new traffic flow to recharge the same battery in just 10 to 20 seconds.

It was widely believed the ions and electrons inside the battery moved too slowly, but the researchers noticed that wasn't the case.  They focused on how ions enter nano-scale tunnels aimed at moving electrons around the battery, and eventually created a lithium phosphate coating that helps push ions to the nano-scale tunnels.

Rechargeable lithium batteries used today have the ability to store high amounts of energy, but don't normally release that power, so they discharge very slowly.    

The battery has been supported with federal research money, and two companies have already licensed the technology, MIT announced.  It'd be possible to start mass producing the batteries in two to three years, the MIT researchers said. 

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RE: Good
By mead drinker on 3/13/2009 8:33:13 AM , Rating: 1
This would be a great commercial achievement if it would be used in the looming electric vehicle market where the main concern has been what happens after the initial charge received at your home is depleted. The weight and volume of the system as you mention are not yet concerns and are neglible as they are comparable to ICE.

RE: Good
By FITCamaro on 3/13/2009 1:53:44 PM , Rating: 2
I agree that this could allow a practical electric car. My question isn't how fast does it charge, but how long does it last? If it only lasts for a year, then it isn't practical or economical. In fact it would produce a huge amount of waste.

Batteries need the same ability as a car's gas tank/fuel pump. Ability to be "refueled" quickly and last at least 20 years. I mean there are 30+ year old cars out there still running the same engine, transmission, and fuel system as the day they were built. It just takes proper maintenance.

One of the things I hate about cars today is that they're too complicated. There's so many little pieces of crap that can break. Hence why my dream is to take an old car (67-69 Camaro and put modern equipment in it. The only computers in the car being the ECM for the motor and the stereo.

RE: Good
By murphyslabrat on 3/13/2009 2:36:32 PM , Rating: 3
I think the referenced article explains things better than this Dailytech one. As far as I understand this article and the one it was based on, this is simply a make-over for traditional li-ion batteries.

The article that Mr. Barkoviak linked used the analogy of city streets, on which I'll extend: this doesn't build any new houses, doesn't put new doors on houses, and doesn't change the structure of the houses. All it does is make more streets, and make them bigger.

RE: Good
By erple2 on 3/13/2009 5:36:03 PM , Rating: 2
I agree with the longevity issue. It'd be very interesting to see if they can even make the batteries, let alone whether they last any length of time, or what their energy density is (all things missing from the DT article).

On the other point ...

Nothing like having a car that requires constant tuning and tinkering with to keep it running well.

No thanks. I'll take my modern car with all of the electronic gizmos inside that don't require retunes for each season. By the way, once you put modern equipment in a 67 camaro, it's no longer simple anymore. I like cruise control. I like power windows. I like keyless entry. I like that I only have change the oil on my car every 3000 or so miles and it'll run flawlessly for 100+ thousand miles.

My experience with pre 1980's cars has been that something always needs tinkering with. Whether it's timing, carburetor, sparkplugs, whatever, it's NOT the plug and play devices we have now. That convenience is worth far more to me than the antiquated simplicity of old old cars.


RE: Good
By FITCamaro on 3/13/2009 6:15:03 PM , Rating: 3
Modern shocks and struts, disc brakes, modern posi traction, etc doesn't make a car prone to trouble. The ECU would be the only computer in the car. Stuff like fuel injectors and what not are not really troublesome components.

What I don't like are all the sensors and random safety crap in cars today that do nothing but break and add weight. I don't need power door locks. Sure I like power windows but those also aren't really too troublesome. I don't need remote start either. And you only have to change the oil every 3-5000 miles on any car. Even a car from the 60s.

I like cars I can work on without a computer to diagnose everything. My 87 Camaro only needed about 3 wrenches to work on most parts of it.

RE: Good
By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 12:25:14 AM , Rating: 3
You wrote 20, then 30 years. Shocks and struts don't last 1/5th that if replaced as they should be, and even ignoring handing, will entirely rust through when used in average climates.

Disc brakes certainly don't last that long either, the rotors must be turned a few times until they are too thin and have to be replaced. Same for brake lines, calipers, etc. There's no "care" and "maintenance" that precludes replacing these parts over that timespan. Fuel injectors will also be troublesome over this period if the gas lines age enough or poor quality fuel is used.

Power windows are also troublesome over 20+ years. Many fail within 10 if frequently used. So we can say these things aren't "trouble" but mainly because it'll be only a few things that happen to each car, not all of them at once. Plus, typically the older a car gets, the less frequently it is driven so the wear decelerates besides body rust-through if it's stored outside, but even then in the snow belt if it's not driven it's not exposed to salt so much.

There is something to be said for 20 to 30 year old cars though, at least the larger ones could have parts swapped without taking out 10 other parts just to gain access. These days just changing spark plugs or the battery means removing something else first.

RE: Good
By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 12:07:58 AM , Rating: 2
False. Weight and volume, and price was mentioned too, are the primary concerns. If it were not for these factors, electric cars would already travel further than they do, and be able to be recharged faster than they can.

How are these electric vehicles achiving the mileage they do at arguably almost-affordable prices? By using design characteristics common to efficient economy cars. Small, light weight, careful attention to component cost.

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