Ever since mobile phones became popular, the importance of rechargeable electric batteries has been steadily growing all over the world. According to Wikipedia, in 2013, there were an estimated 6.8 billion mobile phones in use worldwide (including smartphones) and 97 out of 100 people in the world owned at least one mobile phone. These numbers include some of the poorest among us. While a large number of users do not go beyond making simple voice calls (and infrequent text messages), the availability of excellent and easy-to-use free ‘apps’ (or apps), which are growing in variety and number day by day, it is gradually attracting many in this category to become ‘mainstream’ mobile phone users. Many people who use PCs as their main computing device today, aware that PCs will soon give up their preeminent position in the computing world, are also starting to switch to smartphones. These factors are expected to lead to a 35% increase in the number of smartphone users by 2020 (or 9.2 billion users worldwide).
As smartphones become thinner, lighter, smarter, use larger screens, etc., they also consume more power. Therefore, the critical need for high-capacity, super-fast-charging batteries that can be recharged a large number of times before being disposed of, is critical to the success of future smartphones.
There are also other important applications that depend on fast-charging batteries for their well-being. One is the much celebrated electric vehicle (EV) industry. Users expect battery recharge time to be comparable to the time it would take to refuel at a gas station today, ie in the order of 4-5 minutes. Another very important application is in smart grids, those smart electrical energy management stations, where the inputs and outputs of electricity to users are managed. Large capacity fast charge/drain batteries are required to store excess power (whenever input exceeds demand) and release it when there is a shortfall. Somewhat less critical, but important, are fast-charging batteries used in smart watches, smart homes, and personal health devices (PHDs).
A couple of years ago, it became unmistakably clear that lithium-ion batteries (the best battery technology in use today) would be grossly unsuitable for future requirements. There is such a wide gap between lithium-ion technology and the projected battery of the future, that it became quite obvious that nothing short of a “quantum leap” (or revolution) in battery technology would suffice. That’s why, while it hadn’t yet been in the news, feverish and frantic research had been launched at many major university and corporate R&D centers to find the exalted battery technology of the future with features such as: time of charge in the order of a few minutes or even seconds (wow!), lower weight (which is reduced by half in the case of EV batteries), higher capacity, safety (no fires or electrical explosions expected that remember the Boeing 787 mishaps of 2013!), significantly lower cost, easy handling, and cycle times in the thousands and ten thousands.
To think of achieving a “quantum leap” in technology in 1 or 2 years would have left many in the scientific community dumbfounded in the recent past. But now things have changed! Man, having advanced the frontiers of scientific knowledge by unprecedented leaps and bounds in recent times, today’s researchers, sitting on the pinnacles of scientific knowledge, seem to offer highly promising solutions in the blink of an eye!
So here is a list of the most promising technologies that are being researched at the time of writing this article. (Note: Fast-charging battery research is currently awash with many alternative technologies vying for the number 1 spot. Being so numerous, the author has not attempted to present an exhaustive list. Instead, the list below represents the best of everything, in your opinion.)
ALUMINUM-GRAPHITE TECHNOLOGY (see reference numbers 2 and 4 for details):
At the top of the list is the aluminum-graphite technology being developed at Stanford University, USA. It’s amazing because of its 1-minute (yes, 60-second!) charging time. While its capacity is about half that of lithium-ion, it more than makes up for this shortcoming with its incredible charging time. Compared to lithium-ion lifespan of approximately 1,000 charge cycles, aluminum graphite lasts at least 7,500 cycles. It’s also much safer than Li-ion: researchers say that even if you puncture it, it won’t catch fire!
ALUMINUM-AIR TECHNOLOGY (FOR VE) (Reference numbers 1 and 2):
In the aluminum-air (Al-air) battery, oxygen from the air is used at the cathode and therefore a separate oxidizer is not necessary. This type of battery has energy densities that could supply an EV with enough power to put it up to par with its gasoline-powered counterparts. Range on a single full charge is approximately 1000 miles! A couple of top-ups may be all you need if you drive up to 2,000 miles per month!
The amazing thing about this battery is that it weighs only half of the current lithium battery. Without half the weight of the battery, you get much more payload to transport passengers and goods (Note: The battery is by far the heaviest component in an EV. In the Tesla Roadster, for example, the battery contributes about one-third of the total weight, so the weight saved, i.e. one-sixth of the total, is considerable).
ALUMINUM-AIR TECHNOLOGY (FOR EVs) (Reference No.2):
This is a different type than the Al-air technology discussed above. Awesome because it runs on water (both ordinary and sea water) and has 40 times the capacity of Li-ion!
FAST CHARGING BASED ON NANOTECHNOLOGY (Reference No.5):
StoreDot Ltd., an Israeli high-tech fast-charging battery company, will soon launch “FlashBattery for SmartPhones,” a universal charger for smartphones. The company uses proprietary organic compounds created/manipulated using nanotechnology.
What makes it amazing? You can recharge any phone, regardless of make or model, in a minute (max)!
In addition to phones, the charger can be used to charge portable devices, PHDs, tablets, and the like. However, there is a catch: although it is tested, it is not commercially available yet! It may take a year from now before it’s available in retail stores.
StoreDot will also offer “FlashBattery for EV”, a fast charger for electric cars soon. This product is programmed to charge a car battery in just five minutes!
FAST CHARGE OVER RADIO WAVES (Reference No.2):
In this technology, the electrical energy used for charging is transmitted through radio waves.
Not too surprising, except that it’s wireless and charges from up to 20 feet away. And there is also a catch: it is not immediately available on the market.
ORGANIC FLOW TECHNOLOGY (Reference No.2 and Wikipedia):
Developed by MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), organic flow technology generates electricity using an organic substance, AQDS (9,10-anthraquinone-2,7-disulfonic acid) as a charge carrier.
It amazes us by reducing 97% of the cost of electricity production (battery source), while metal batteries provide 1 KWh of energy for $700, organic flow batteries give you that amount of energy for only $27.
NANOBATTERIES (Reference numbers 2, 6 and Wikipedia):
Nanobatteries are made from “nano” sized batteries (ie sizes in the range of 10 to the power of -9 meters). “Nano” batteries are created by placing two electrodes in a small hole (or “nanopore”) in an electrically insulating membrane or metallic compound (such as aluminum oxide) separated by a thin insulating film. A large number of “nanopores” fuse together to form a complete battery.
Anything superlative about them? Yes! The nanopores are so small that they are not individually visible. They can hold up to four times the power of lithium ions and fully charge in 10 minutes. In addition, they have a useful life of about 1,000 charging cycles.
NTU LITHIUM-TITANIUM DIOXIDE TECHNOLOGY (FOR EV) (Reference No.7 and Wikipedia):
This is a technological breakthrough from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) based in Singapore. By changing the graphite cathode found in lithium-ion batteries to a low-cost gel made from titanium dioxide, NTU claims to have developed an ultra-fast-charging battery that charges to 70% capacity in two minutes. Apart from the charging time of two minutes, what is surprising is its extraordinary lifespan of 20 years.
Aimed primarily at electric vehicles, the battery life factor is expected to greatly reduce costs that would otherwise have arisen due to frequent battery replacements.
NOTE: As mentioned above, fast-charging battery research is an evolving field currently teeming with several alternative technologies that show promise. Technologies based on metal foam substrate, silicon, sodium ions, urine-fueled microbial fuel cells, solar power, hydrogen, candle soot, and several others that are under research and development were overlooked in making the above list. , which the author believes are the best on the list. batch. One notable omission is Meredith Perry’s “air charging” technology, which uses electricity transmitted via ultrasound to charge. A long-awaited and coveted technology until recently, it apparently failed recent evaluation tests and had to be scrapped.
References: (Requires cutting and pasting the link in your browser to access reference numbers 3 to 7)
1. Jeffrey Marlow, “The 10 Hottest Fields of Scientific Research”, The 10 Hottest Fields of Scientific Research | Wired, http://www.wired.com/2013/08/the-10-hottest-fields-of-science-research/
2. Pocket-lint, “Future Batteries Coming Soon: Charge in Seconds, Last Months and Wireless Charging”, Future Batteries Coming Soon: Charge in Seconds, Last Months and Wireless Charging – Pocket-lint, http://www.pocket- lint.com/news/130380-future-batteries-coming-soon-charge-in-seconds-last-months-and-power-over-the-air
3. ScienceDaily, “Battery Research”, Battery News — Science Daily, sciencedaily.com/news/matter_energy/batteries/
4. Stanford University, “Stanford Aluminum Battery Offers Safe Alternative to Conventional Batteries,” news.stanford.edu/news/2015/march/aluminum-ion-battery-033115.HTML
5. StoreDot Ltd., “FlashBattery for Smartphones”, StoreDot What We Do, store-dot.com/#!smartphones/c1u5l
6. Ars Technica, “New battery composed of many nanobatteries” | Ars Technica, arstechnica.com/science/2014/11/new-battery-composed-of-lots-of-nanobatteries/
7. Nanyang Technological University, “NTU Develops Ultra-Fast-Charging Batteries That Last 20 Years,” News Detail, media.ntu.edu.sg/NewsReleases/Pages/newsdetail.aspx?news=809fbb2f-95f0-4995-b5c0-10ae4c50c934