New algorithms could allow lithium-ion batteries to charge twice as fast

By on October 5, 2012, 12:30 PM

A new take on battery technology could mean that we’ll soon be able to charge our device batteries twice as fast as what’s possible today. Engineers at the University of California, San Diego have developed a new charging algorithm that slashes recharge times in half and helps them run more efficiently.

Most research in the battery field as of late has centered on how to make existing lithium-ion batteries smaller and thinner so they can better fit into portable devices like smartphones, tablets and notebooks. Capacity is still very important but we haven’t heard much in the way of faster and more efficient charging technologies until now.

Researchers point out that manufacturers rely on voltage and current to monitor a battery’s behavior and health – metrics that are described as very crude. In layman’s terms, it’s like trying to have the ticket collector at a movie theater estimate which seats the customers are taking by monitoring the speed of the entrance line.

The new algorithms allow researchers to estimate where the lithium ion particles are inside the battery. Using the movie theater example, they will now be able to fill the theater to capacity safely and more efficiently.

Engineers are sharing a $9.6 million grant from the Department of Energy with automotive products supplier Bosch and battery manufacturer Cobasys to further develop and test the algorithms in electric vehicle batteries. The team estimates the breakthrough has the potential to reduce cost by up to 25 percent. More importantly, however, is the fact that this technology will be going into products that people actually use.




User Comments: 17

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Littleczr Littleczr said:

Great! Tesla should implement this.

IAMTHESTIG said:

I thought rapid charging is bad for lithium based batteries, decreasing their capacity. A slow charger is better, from what I understand. So does this mean a battery could only last as little as only 6 months or so?

Win7Dev said:

I thought rapid charging is bad for lithium based batteries, decreasing their capacity. A slow charger is better, from what I understand. So does this mean a battery could only last as little as only 6 months or so?

No, this is charging faster without reducing life span. They are predicting where the uncharged particles are and essentially targeting only the uncharged particles with electricity instead of wasting time by have electricity flow more randomly throughout the battery.

bugejakurt said:

One thing: About Time!

treeski treeski said:

This is cool, but really I'm waiting for some game-changing discovery in energy capacity. I want to be able to use a core i7 type machine for a week straight without needing a charge!!

...if only

Guest said:

Probably they know this from '90s but now they are aloud to do it.

Win7Dev said:

If an editor reads this, there is a bug with the comments. It says that the comments were made 3 months ago, should be hours ago.

Det Det said:

No, this is charging faster without reducing life span. They are predicting where the uncharged particles are and essentially targeting only the uncharged particles with electricity instead of wasting time by have electricity flow more randomly throughout the battery.

Should improve it then?

Guest said:

This is great. One of the most important aspect that hasn't improved in par with the strides of recent mobile device hardware is the battery life.

Waiting for the day where we can charge once and use a smartphone for 1-2 weeks without recharging. That is imperative!

Guest said:

"This is cool, but really I'm waiting for some game-changing discovery in energy capacity"

actually, we've found it, but still in research (still in prototype)

RajeGera RajeGera said:

This will also reduce the size of the battery or same size battery can last to longer duration.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

Why test it in electric cars though? I would rather my Phone could last longer and I'm pretty sure if this kind of tech can get into phones first that would please a much bigger crowd than the few people who wasted money on an electric car.

KristoZ said:

If an editor reads this, there is a bug with the comments. It says that the comments were made 3 months ago, should be hours ago.

Try and check your local computer's clock - I am not an editor, but the date and time counters change if you change your clock.

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Why test it in electric cars though? I would rather my Phone could last longer and I'm pretty sure if this kind of tech can get into phones first that would please a much bigger crowd than the few people who wasted money on an electric car.

It's probably going to attract more investment dollars from automotive manufacturers who are looking for improvements in this market. Consumer device manufacturers might take an interest, but I'm guessing that there fewer R&D dollars from these guys.

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

Why test it in electric cars though? I would rather my Phone could last longer and I'm pretty sure if this kind of tech can get into phones first that would please a much bigger crowd than the few people who wasted money on an electric car.
catch 22. Fewer buyers (like me) because either the range is too short or the charge time too long. I need 2hrs duration and about a one hr recharge time - - and boy I'd be all over an electric car, showing big oil where to stick it.

Burty117 Burty117, TechSpot Chancellor, said:

The reason I say that though is because well electric cars appear to be doing more damage than that of a standard car:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19830232

Surely starting small and then going big is a better idea? but I guess your probably right, the money is in the car industry I guess?

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

I guess your probably right, the money is in the car industry I guess?
My point is the savings benefit to the consumer is the auto industry. Certainly, longer battery life is a boon for all such devices

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