In a revolutionary development from Cornell University engineers, a new lithium battery boasts a 5-minute charge, potentially eliminating range anxiety and paving the way for wider EV adoption.
The Achilles' heel of electric vehicle (EV) adoption has long been "range anxiety" – the fear of running out of power before reaching your destination. While current lithium-ion batteries offer decent ranges, the fastest charging time for this battery is around 30 minutes.
In a paper published in the journal Joule, researchers revealed that the key to this breakthrough lies in the anode, the battery's positive electrode. Traditionally, lithium-ion batteries use graphite-coated copper anodes, which struggle with rapid charging. These anodes develop dendrites during fast-charging cycles, compromising the battery's performance and lifespan.
The Cornell team, led by chemical and biomolecular engineering doctoral student Shuo Jin, identified indium as a promising alternative anode material. “In practical terms, we desire our electronic devices to charge quickly and operate for extended periods. To achieve this, we have identified a unique indium anode material that can be effectively paired with various cathode materials, to create a battery that charges rapidly and discharges slowly,” Jin said.
Indium, a soft metal widely used in touch screens and solar panels, exhibits two crucial characteristics for fast-charging:
- Low migration energy barrier: This allows lithium ions to move quickly through the indium anode, enabling rapid charging.
- Modest exchange current density: This ensures a controlled charging process, minimizing dendrite formation and preserving the battery's health.
In their experiments, the researchers demonstrated that batteries with indium anodes could be charged to 80% capacity within just 5 minutes, a significant leap forward compared to current batteries. Moreover, the indium anodes exhibited remarkable stability, showing minimal performance degradation even after 500 charge-discharge cycles.