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NTU develops ultra-fast charging batteries that last 20 years

Zafirah Salim | Oct. 14, 2014
With this new technology by NTU, drivers of electric vehicles could save tens of thousands on battery replacement costs as well as recharge their cars in mere minutes.


(Clockwise from top) NTU Assoc Prof Chen Xiaodong with research fellow Tang Yuxin and PhD student Deng Jiyang

A team of four scientists at Nanyang Technology University (NTU) have developed ultra-fast charging batteries that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only two minutes. Not only that, the new generation batteries also have a long lifespan of over 20 years, which is over 10 times longer than existing lithium-ion batteries.

According to the local university's media statement, this battery research project took three years to complete, and is funded by the National Research Foundation (NRF), Prime Minister's Office, Singapore, under its Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE) Programme of Nanomaterials for Energy and Water Management.

This breakthrough has a wide-ranging impact on all industries, especially for electric vehicles, where consumers are put off by the long recharge times and its limited battery life. With this new technology by NTU, drivers of electric vehicles could save tens of thousands on battery replacement costs as well as recharge their cars in mere minutes.

Commonly used in mobile phones, tablets, and in electric vehicles, rechargeable lithium-ion batteries usually last about 500 recharge cycles. This is equivalent to two to three years of typical use, with each cycle taking about two hours for the battery to be fully charged.

In the new NTU-developed battery, the traditional graphite used for the anode (negative pole) in lithium-ion batteries is replaced with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide. The NTU team has found a way to transform the titanium dioxide into tiny nanotubes, which is a thousand times thinner than the diameter of a human hair. This helps to speed up the chemical reactions taking place in the new battery, enabling superfast charging. 

Associate Professor Chen Xiaodong from NTU's School of Materials Science and Engineering, the developer of this technology, and his team will be applying for a Proof-of-Concept grant to build a large-scale battery prototype. With the help of NTUitive, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NTU set up to support NTU start-ups, the patented technology has already attracted interest from the industry.

In fact, the technology is currently being licensed by a company for eventual production. Prof Chen expects that the new generation of fast-charging batteries will hit the market in the next two years, adding that it has the potential to be a key solution in overcoming longstanding power issues related to electro-mobility.

"Electric cars will be able to increase their range dramatically, with just five minutes of charging, which is on par with the time needed to pump petrol for current cars," said Prof Chen. "Equally important, we can now drastically cut down the toxic waste generated by disposed batteries, since our batteries last ten times longer than the current generation of lithium-ion batteries."

 

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