Japanese researchers have developed a method to increase the charging capacity of batteries used in electric cars. The results show increased battery life, giving hope to develop more durable batteries for cars and maybe even smartphones.
At a time when the general public is more aware of the climate crisis than ever, the electric car market is booming . However, while an increasing number of people are adopting electric cars, there are still several obstacles associated with them -- the financial aspect, as well as availability of charging stations and the range of such vehicles (an average of 40 minutes of charging vs a few minutes for a full tank of gasoline with a conventional car).
It's a particularly glaring issue in Japan, one of the few countries in the world where sales of 100% electric cars are still struggling to take off , despite a marked appetite for hybrid cars. Additionally, there are problems related to battery composition which uses rare metals such as lithium, whose extraction poses serious environmental and social concerns.
In an attempt to address all of these issues, a Japanese team of researchers from the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST) has developed a method of manufacturing anodes that can charge lithium-ion batteries very quickly.
The scientists have developed a carbon-based anode. This polymer, synthesized from raw materials of biological origin, has been calcinated to increase its nitrogen content. This scientific process has a specific goal: to design an electric car battery that can be charged in 15 minutes or less.
An approach that could also work for smartphones
Durability tests showed that batteries with this bio-based polymer retained about 90% of their initial capacity, even after 3,000 charge-discharge cycles at high rates. This is considerably higher than the capacity retained by graphite-based cells, which are the most common material for conventional lithium-ion batteries.
The researchers also found that modifications to the polymer structure could lead to even better performance, which would not only be useful for batteries in electric vehicles , but also for those in our smartphones.
"Much shorter charging times will hopefully attract consumers to choose EVs rather than gasoline-based vehicles, ultimately leading to cleaner environments in every major city across the world," said Professor Noriyoshi Matsumi, who led the study published in Chemical Communications.
Other ultra-efficient rechargeable battery projects are also in the pipeline. For instance researchers from Ford and Purdue University in the US presented a new kind of charging cable for electric cars in November. This small wire, which is patent pending, is said to charge an electric vehicle in nearly the same time that it would take to fill up a tank with gasoline, thanks to a revolutionary cooling process.