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BATTERY ELECTRODE New Li-ion battery electrode charges EVs in just 6 minutes

Author / Editor: Luke James / Johanna Erbacher

A team of researchers from South Korea’s Pohang University of Science and Technology claims to have developed a faster charging and longer lasting battery material that can charge cars up to 90 percent in a record time of just 6 minutes.

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There are two major challenges in the further development of Electric Vehicles (EV) - slow charging times and weak power. Researchers from South Korea now seem to have the solution.
There are two major challenges in the further development of Electric Vehicles (EV) - slow charging times and weak power. Researchers from South Korea now seem to have the solution.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Unsplash)

Unlike conventional cars that use fossil fuels, electric cars are powered entirely by lithium-ion batteries. So unlike in combustion engines where performance can vary dramatically, the performance of current electric vehicles is far more nuanced and controlled entirely by battery performance. And at the moment, two huge challenges stand in the way of further developments in Electric Vehicle (EV) performance - slow charging times and weak power.

Now, South Korean Researchers from the Pohang University of Science and Technology (POSTECH) say that they’ve overcome the issue of slow charging time with a new lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery electrode material that enables faster charging times without reducing particle size.

An intermediate phase during charging

To date, the methods used for achieving fast charging have reduced the particle size of electrode materials. This has a big disadvantage because it decreases the volumetric energy density of the batteries, leading to a trade-off between fast charging and EV range.

"The conventional approach has always been a trade-off between its low energy density and the rapid charge and discharge speed due to the reduction in the particle size," said Byoungwoo Kang, a lead researcher on the POSTECH project.

To remedy this, the research team explored whether an intermediate phase in the phase transition during charging and discharging could be used to generate high power without reducing energy density or particle size through rapid charging and discharging, thus enabling the development of long-lasting Li-ion batteries.

Much to their delight, the research team was able to confirm this. Using a synthesis method that they developed, the researchers demonstrated that it’s possible to induce an intermediate phase that acts as a structural buffer, massively reducing the change in volume between the two phases in a particle.

The researchers report on ultrafast kinetics in a phase separating material with submicron particles enabled by an intermediate phase during discharge without reducing particle size.
The researchers report on ultrafast kinetics in a phase separating material with submicron particles enabled by an intermediate phase during discharge without reducing particle size.
(Source: Pohang University of Science and Technology)

90 percent charge in 6 minutes

The researchers have also confirmed that this buffering intermediate phase can help create and grow an entirely new phase within the particle, which brings further improvements in the speed of insertion and removal of lithium in the particle. As a result, the team’s Li-ion battery electrodes were able to charge up to 90 percent in just 6 minutes and discharge by 54 percent in 18 seconds - a very promising sign for the future development of high-power Li-ion batteries, which will be of very high value for the EV industry.

"This research has laid the foundation for developing Li-ion batteries that can achieve quick charging and discharging speed, high energy density, and prolonged performance," Kang added.

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