If there’s one thing stopping many of us from buying an electric vehicle, it is the fact that it can take hours to charge. However, that could soon change thanks to researchers at Nanotek Instruments Inc. and their subsidiary Angstron Materials Inc. The firms have developed a “new paradigm” that could see the production of energy storage devices that would enable electric vehicles to be fully charged in less than a minute. Not just that, but the technology could also be used for renewable energy storage such as storing solar power.

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Here’s the technical part. According to the researchers, the new devices are “graphene surface-enabled lithium ion-exchanging cells” aka “surface-mediated cells” (SMCs). Despite using unoptimized materials and configurations, the SMCs can outperform Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors while delivering a power density of 100 kW/kgcell – 100 times higher than that of commercial Li-ion batteries and 10 times higher than that of supercapacitors. The SMCs can store an energy density of 160 Wh/kgcell, which is comparable to commercial Li-ion batteries and 30 times higher than that of conventional supercapacitors.

In layman’s terms – the greater the energy density, the more energy the device can store for the same volume (resulting in a longer driving range for electric vehicles).

“Given the same device weight, the current SMC and Li-ion battery can provide an electric vehicle (EV) with a comparable driving range,” Bor Z. Jang, co-founder of Nanotek Instruments and Angstron Materials to PhysOrg.com. “Our SMCs, just like the current Li-ion batteries, can be further improved in terms of energy density [and therefore range]. However, in principle, the SMC can be recharged in minutes (possibly less than one minute), as opposed to hours for Li-ion batteries used in current EVs.”

“The development of this new class of energy storage devices bridges the performance gap between a Li-ion battery and a supercapacitor,” Jang said. “More significantly, this fundamentally new framework for constructing energy storage devices could enable researchers to achieve both the high energy density and high power density without having to sacrifice one to achieve the other.”

The report was published in a recent issue of Nano Letters. Get it now and get saving for that EV!

+ Nano Letters

via PhysOrg