Charge a Battery in Just Six Minutes

Altair's patented modification is to make the anode surface out of lithium titanate nanocrystals, using chemical tricks to give it a surface area of about 100 square metres per gram, compared with 3 square metres per gram for carbon.

Published: 07-Mar-2005

A rechargeable battery that can be fully charged in just 6 minutes, lasts 10 times as long as today's rechargeables and can provide bursts of electricity up to three times more powerful is showing promise in a Nevada lab.

New types of battery are badly needed. Nokia's chief technologist Yrjö Neuvo warned last year that batteries are failing to keep up with the demands of the increasingly energy-draining features being crammed into mobile devices (New Scientist print edition, 28 February 2004).

The highest energy-per-weight ratio in today's batteries is provided by lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. They are also cheaper in terms of energy delivered per unit of weight than alternative types of battery such as nickel-metal-hydride (NiMH) and nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cd) types. But Li-ion cells have their drawbacks too. They eventually wear out, and they cannot discharge energy quickly enough for applications requiring power surges, such as camera flashguns and power tools.

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