New battery technology is on the horizon and there’s a good chance it will change the way you use your devices soon. By replacing the graphite anode in lithium-ion batteries with titanium dioxide nanotubes, researchers at Nanyang Technical University in Singapore have been able to significantly improve the charging time and life of lithium-ion battery cells.
Why is it important? Because now we all, one way or another, plan our lives around the limitations of modern battery technology.
There are many new battery technologies on the horizon: battery technologies that are about to but this one is known for how close it is to commercialization.
How titanium dioxide batteries work
So how does the new breakthrough work? In a typical lithium-ion battery, the negative terminal (anode) is usually made of thin graphite, which has a relatively large surface area, allowing it to react efficiently with the acid in the battery to create current (or draw current while charging). However, these reactions are not ideal, and over time, the battery loses capacity.
Right now, typical batteries lose a significant fraction of their maximum charge capacity in just five hundred charge cycles (little more than a year’s charge for each day) — and since the reaction generates heat, there are limits to how much juice you can pour into a battery without increasing reaction inefficiency. and risking thermal damage to the battery.
The NTU team solved this problem by developing a simple, low-cost method to convert titanium dioxide, a rich industrial material, into nanotube structures about a thousand times thinner than a human hair. This makes the chemical reactions that make the battery work substantially more efficient.
This has two effects: First, the battery can draw more current with less heat, allowing the battery to be charged to 70% capacity in about two minutes. Secondly, the battery’s chemical reactions are more efficient, both in use and when recharging. This means the battery drains much more slowly, allowing the same battery to potentially last more than two decades without replacement.