Battery breakthroughs slash charge time


Inconvenient battery charging could soon be a thing of the past thanks to scientists at MIT who have developed a battery that can be fully charged in under 20 seconds. Their work on lithium batteries has uncovered that although lithium batteries dispense power slowly, they don't need to be charged slowly. It was previously thought that lithium limited charging speed but the scientists have found the limitation isn't in the lithium but in the substrate around it. The tech could be available in two to three years because it doesn't represent a fundamental shift away from traditional lithium battery technology. However, some concerns remain as to what speeds can actually be achieved. A key limitation will be the source power available and many domestic power-points won't be able to deliver the speed suggested.

In the meantime, battery technology is improving. HP has announced it is to shift laptop batteries that are guaranteed to operate for three years and roughly 1,000 recharge cycles without degrading. That's two to three times more than a typical lithium ion battery and the batteries, which use Sonata cells from Boston Power, will charge up to 80% of their capacity in 30 minutes. The batteries will cost around US$20 more than standard replacement batteries currently on offer.

Stewart Baines
Stewart Baines

I've been writing about technology for nearly 20 years, including editing industry magazines Connect and Communications International. In 2002 I co-founded Futurity Media with Anthony Plewes. My focus in Futurity Media is in emerging technologies, social media and future gazing. As a graduate of philosophy & science, I have studied futurology & foresight to the post-grad level.