A common ingredient in pavement could be the unexpected add-on that transforms charging times for lithium-ion batteries, cutting the wait for a full top-up from hours to five minutes, Texas researchers claim.
Citing details revealed in the scientific journal ACS Nano, BBC News reports that the scientists mixed “carbon derived from asphalt with graphene nanoribbons, and then coated with lithium metal” to create a battery that “can be made to charge 10 to 20 times faster” than today’s Li-ion production models used for everything from cell phones to automobiles. The addition of asphalt also appeared to stop “the formation of deposits that can shorten the life of a battery.”
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“The capacity of these batteries is enormous,” enthused James Tour, who heads the lab at Houston’s Rice University that developed the new technique. After testing a prototype through hundreds of charge cycles to demonstrate its durability, he told BBC, “what is equally remarkable is that we can bring them from zero charge to full charge in five minutes, rather than the typical two hours or more needed with other batteries.”
Range anxiety and recharge times are two consumer concerns widely believed to be holding back the wider adoption of electric vehicles. Even Tesla’s fastest Supercharger network takes 75 minutes to deliver a full charge, according to its Wikipedia entry. Depending on the charger’s wattage, other systems may take up to 12 hours to complete a charge.
Breakthroughs on this front would be a big boost for the industry. However, CCS Insight consultant cautioned, “we see so many of these claims I have learned through experience to be extremely cautious about them.”