Battery reaches 60% charge in 6 minutes

Changing the way battery particles are ordered speeds up charging times without affecting energy storage


April 27, 2022

Lithium-ion battery cells being inserted into a package at the Johammer e-mobility GmbH electric motorcycle factory in Bad Leonfelden, Austria in 2016

Lithium-ion cells being inserted into a package at the Johammer e-mobility electric motorcycle factory in Bad Leonfelden, Austria, in 2016

Lisi Niesner/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A lithium-ion battery that uses copper and copper nanowires to organize its particles can charge up to 60% in 6 minutes without affecting its energy storage. This more efficient battery could one day power electric cars, allowing drivers to travel more without waiting as long for the vehicle to charge.

Batteries, which are largely lithium-ion, use binding agents to bond their particles together to provide a solid structure. This can create a thick battery fluid with a random distribution of particles, leading to slower charging times. The finer battery fluid particles are ordered to charge faster but tend to store less energy.

To overcome these problems, Yao Hongbin of the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei and his colleagues designed a lithium-ion battery with a structured anode, the positive end of a battery.

Lithium battery anodes are typically made of graphite particles through which the charge flows, with these particles usually arranged in a rather random order. Hongbin and his team arranged the particles in order of particle size and number of gaps between the particles, known as porosity.

Its battery charged 60% and 80% in 5.6 and 11.4 minutes, respectively, maintaining high energy storage in standard tests.

The researchers did not record the time to reach a 100% charge. Electric car manufacturers generally recommend that vehicles be charged up to 80% to maintain battery longevity. A Tesla typically takes 40 minutes to an hour to reach 40% to 80% charge.

“In our project, we controlled the entire density in the electrode,” says Yao. “We used a higher porosity at the top [of the anode] but less porosity at the bottom, so the average porosity has a normal value.”

To organize the particles by size and porosity, Yao and his team coated the graphite anode particles with copper and mixed copper nanowires. The particles were then heated, cooled and compressed, configuring the ordered structure.

“This natural sedimentation process is fine, however I feel that the additional processing steps needed to coat the graphite and make the copper nanowires can add up to an appreciable cost,” says Billy Wu of Imperial College London.

Heating and cooling the anode can also add additional cost to what is traditionally a cheaper battery component, Wu says.

Newspaper reference: advances in scienceDOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm6624

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