Porous electrode batteries 2000x more powerful, charge 1000x faster, 30x smaller

By on April 18, 2013, 3:00 PM

University of Illinois researchers have uncovered a way to design batteries that are thousands of times more powerful, 30 times smaller and charge 1000 times faster than current offerings. If what the research team claims is true, the next generation of batteries may be just around the corner.

So -- what's the secret behind the team's amazing battery? "Nanoporous" electrodes.

In their simplest form, batteries generate power by exploiting chemical reactions between two electrodes (i.e. cathode and anode) and an electrolyte -- the substance which fills the space between both electrodes. Lithium-based materials have long been the chemistry of choice for high-powered electronics.

Although battery technology has undoubtedly improved over the years, we arguably haven't seen a truly major advancement in portable power since the first commercial lithium ion battery (pdf) hit the scene in 1991. Li-ion batteries have remained the best trade-off between high power density and high specific energy for consumer electronics.

While touted alternatives, like fuel cells, boast desirable attributes like high specific energy and super capacitors promise near-instant charge times, each technology suffers at least one major shortcoming. It's been effectively impossible to develop a battery that excels at everything, but Illinois researchers believe they have solved this conundrum.

"If you want high energy you can’t get high power; if you want high power it’s very difficult to get high energy." noted James Pikul, a graduate student involved in the project.

By carefully fabricating highly-porous electrodes, scientists greatly increased the amount of surface exposed to electrolytic molecules. This massive bump in exposed surface area vastly improved battery effectiveness, combining high power density with favorable energy storage.

Miniature batteries with shorter charge times and greater power output will likely encourage manufacturers to think outside the box. The future may hold wireless devices with greater range and more utility, better medical implants and even practical, wearable electronics.

The team's research paper, "High-power lithium ion microbatteries from interdigitated three-dimensional bicontinuous nanoporous electrodes" is available at Nature. Meanwhile, ExtremeTech offers an interesting, more in-depth look at the technology.




User Comments: 33

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2 people like this | MilwaukeeMike said:

Great news. Batteries are the bottleneck for a ton of technology. I read a while back that they developed an 'invisibility' cloak that was basically a wearable flexible screen that would output on your front whatever was behind you. Problem was in order to make it work outdoors it had to be able to be bright, which meant either plug it into a wall or deal with battery life of like 3 minutes.

Hopefully these will be cost effective enough to get the electric car market rolling (ha!). Until people can recharge in a similar amount of time it takes to fill up with gas and have a battery last 300 miles AND have good pickup and speed, we'll be stuck with expensive solutions like the Volt.

1 person liked this | VitalyT VitalyT said:

1000 times more explosion-prone, spontaneously? Read other sources on the Internet, not this one.

They should call it a nuke.

AD: Get our new battery pack, it's a blast!

Vrmithrax Vrmithrax, TechSpot Paladin, said:

If this type of advance can be applied on a larger scale, it could very well push the electric vehicle from "novelty" to "feasible" for many people who don't even consider EVs due to range limits and charging times... Hope it's not one of those technological advances that looks great on paper and in very small controlled environments, but falls apart when faced with real world applications.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

I read a while back that they developed an 'invisibility' cloak that was basically a wearable flexible screen that would output on your front whatever was behind you.
Sadly that only works from one specific angle. Any other angle and the projection would no longer be camouflage. Unless I'm mistaken they have not invented a projection device that will project differently from different viewing angle. Each pixel point would literally need to be capable of projecting panoramic view. Therefor you would need the power of nVidia Titan for each pixel point. Even with these batteries and our current tech, I don't think we are ready for invisibility cloaks.

1 person liked this | tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Back in the early 90s where I was working at, I had met a NASA Scientist / Engineer here in South Florida, USA, who told me a tale about batteries NASA had tested. So he had said they had battery that lasted 3 years even if used daily. It was no smaller than 9-volt battery. It wasn't available to the public and he also mention that it would never be.

Today 2013 and still what do we have for batteries. Rechargeable, Lion, Niah, Alks, Heavy Duty, Regular.

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

So he had said they had battery that lasted 3 years even if used daily. It was no smaller than 9-volt battery.
The battery in my watch holds true under those terms. Can you give an example of total daily power consumption?

1 person liked this | tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

The battery in my watch holds true under those terms. Can you give an example of total daily power consumption?

No this was not watch batteries and those tech are not changed much from the 80s to now. What I had mention is all I remember. I had pose the question to him about batteries. He wasn't at liberty to tell me more about it. If had I would tell you.

Listen to this in 2006, I met two UTC Power Engineers they had came to my house up New England, USA where I was prior. They told me a tale which is in fact used today but only in Japan. They said they had power cells that can power entire home that was the same size of outdoor central air handler. These don't need to be on the electric grid like we are tap into today. Both of these engineers said that this device won't be sold in the USA because of the electric companies won't allow it.

1 person liked this | Guest said:

Forget electric cars, I just want to see a smart-phone that can last ~5 days without re-charging :)

JC713 JC713 said:

Forget electric cars, I just want to see a smart-phone that can last ~5 days without re-charging

And you just plug it in and then... Bam charged in 1 second.

1 person liked this | MilwaukeeMike said:

No this was not watch batteries and those tech are not changed much from the 80s to now. What I had mention is all I remember. I had pose the question to him about batteries. He wasn't at liberty to tell me more about it. If had I would tell you.

Listen to this in 2006, I met two UTC Power Engineers they had came to my house up New England, USA where I was prior. They told me a tale which is in fact used today but only in Japan. They said they had power cells that can power entire home that was the same size of outdoor central air handler. These don't need to be on the electric grid like we are tap into today. Both of these engineers said that this device won't be sold in the USA because of the electric companies won't allow it.

Are you referring to the sort of power cells Google uses for it's headquarters?

Your story sounds totally believable though. Here's a story from WIRED about the waterless urinal. It's cleaner and great for the environment. Also cheaper because you don't need half the plumbing. But that's the problem. The plumbers unions blocked it for years because it meant less work for them. The final solution? They allowed it only if they were still allowed to run the pipes and cap them off behind the wall. No joke. Read all about it.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Forget electric cars, I just want to see a smart-phone that can last ~5 days without re-charging

Forget electric cars, I want one where you plug your phone into a cradle and it powers the car off the phone for a month! That'll be alright.

IAMTHESTIG said:

I doubt manufacturing will be simply and economic. But if this does indeed pan out, and manufacturing can be sorted out, this could make electric cars a viable solution. Rather than the joke they are now... My question is of the longevity of these batteries using porous electrodes because as we all know, chemicals don't last forever when going through usage cycles.

St1ckM4n St1ckM4n said:

Implantable electronics would be great. Health-risks aside, imagine strapping a conduction loop to your wrist every so often for minute to charge up!

veLa veLa said:

I hear about new battery technology like this every couple of months only for it to never be applied.

Scshadow said:

I hear about new battery technology like this every couple of months only for it to never be applied.

Basically this. I don't care what they are able to do anymore especially with batteries. I only care what is actually brought to market.

NTAPRO NTAPRO said:

Back in the early 90s where I was working at, I had met a NASA Scientist / Engineer here in South Florida, USA, who told me a tale about batteries NASA had tested. So he had said they had battery that lasted 3 years even if used daily. It was no smaller than 9-volt battery. It wasn't available to the public and he also mention that it would never be.

Today 2013 and still what do we have for batteries. Rechargeable, Lion, Niah, Alks, Heavy Duty, Regular.

Haha, there's no profit in such long lasting batteries lol

soldier1969 soldier1969 said:

Show me a smartphone or laptop or battery drill that can last a week on one charge, on its brightest/max settings and or be used all day every day during that week then I will be impressed.

VitalyT VitalyT said:

Anybody seen movie "Day and Knight"? - Hollywood version about a super battery, a single AAA to feed an entire city

misor misor said:

The battery in my watch holds true under those terms. Can you give an example of total daily power consumption?

No this was not watch batteries and those tech are not changed much from the 80s to now. What I had mention is all I remember. I had pose the question to him about batteries. He wasn't at liberty to tell me more about it. If had I would tell you.

Listen to this in 2006, I met two UTC Power Engineers they had came to my house up New England, USA where I was prior. They told me a tale which is in fact used today but only in Japan. They said they had power cells that can power entire home that was the same size of outdoor central air handler. These don't need to be on the electric grid like we are tap into today. Both of these engineers said that this device won't be sold in the USA because of the electric companies won't allow it.

your "tale" is consistent with the practice of the oil industry in not supporting alternate fuel technology...despite the claims of some of supporting "green energy".

if such long life battery tech is marketed today, china, as a mass-manufacturing giant, will rise further economically.

Guest said:

Finally, a battery that will allow Windows 8 to last a day

spencer spencer said:

The battery in my watch holds true under those terms. Can you give an example of total daily power consumption?

No this was not watch batteries and those tech are not changed much from the 80s to now. What I had mention is all I remember. I had pose the question to him about batteries. He wasn't at liberty to tell me more about it. If had I would tell you.

Listen to this in 2006, I met two UTC Power Engineers they had came to my house up New England, USA where I was prior. They told me a tale which is in fact used today but only in Japan. They said they had power cells that can power entire home that was the same size of outdoor central air handler. These don't need to be on the electric grid like we are tap into today. Both of these engineers said that this device won't be sold in the USA because of the electric companies won't allow it.

If only tesla could have lived longer...

DarkDragon7 said:

Even it is real, The Time still not right for the battery companies to manufacturing high-end batteries that will ruin their sales and profits.

Guest said:

OK! Now send the technology to China already so they can mass produce it and send the batteries back to us. We are waiting!

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

OK! Now send the technology to China already so they can mass produce it and send the batteries back to us. We are waiting!
There is no need in sending anything to China. If the technology exist, China will find a way to steal it.

tipstir tipstir, TS Ambassador, said:

Duracell is the battery king they control the market with their flood of batteries. Company is based out of CT (New England) batteries should be still made in the USA. Since I don't use the battery and use SANYO ENELOOP rechargeable those last much longer and charge in 1 hr.

Still can't see how China has so much power making copies of everything today. If the USA did that of course things won't be so cheap. But even with cheap has become expensive.

Solar batteries are the worth type those that come in the yellow cell. Those that used outdoors bad, but I can replace them with SANYO ENELOOP they work better.

This new tech in batteries might be good on paper in a test lab, but I am sure Duracell will get a piece of the action.

war59312 said:

Seems year after year I keep reading about all these "super batteries" and none of them ever see the light of day!

Personally until I can run my entire house, car, me (no more having to eat food for energy ha-ha as if), etc. off a single "battery" for at least a month, it really does not excite me anymore.

Guest said:

Wait it's 2000x more powerful but only 1000x faster charge? So that means it takes 2x longer to charge?

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Wait it's 2000x more powerful but only 1000x faster charge? So that means it takes 2x longer to charge?
If so, would that be such a bad trade off?

MrAnderson said:

This is great news if the can get it going commercially.

Who cares about the battery lasting 5 days when you can charge it in 20 seconds... if anything because the small batteries can hold a lot more and charge faster, technology will be able to stretch it self. Similar to how software did not need to average software not needing to be optimized when CPUs were getting faster.

Good news for portable anything. I wonder how it scales for larger device. Will it give off lots of heat? I'm perfectly content with a phone, tablet and laptops lasting for days on a single charge... or a very powerful one of those that rival a desktop lasting a day and still charging in less than a minute. That will be brilliant!

Guest said:

How expensive was this battery to mass produce? Also if it lasted a long time but didn't have a high power yield, there might not have been that much interest from industry since it might have been percieved as reducing their revenues since it lasted longer. And even if it did have a power yield, in '91,unlike today, they probably didn't have any consumer electronics that would require such high amounts of power.

Guest said:

(previous post responding to tipstir)

Guest said:

Look at the mars Curiosity they sent it has no solar cells and runs on a heat gen that turns heat into electricity it will last 25+ years running the computers motors and a lot more the gen is about the size of 2 to 3 mini tires stacked

cliffordcooley cliffordcooley, TechSpot Paladin, said:

Look at the mars Curiosity they sent it has no solar cells and runs on a heat gen that turns heat into electricity it will last 25+ years running the computers motors and a lot more the gen is about the size of 2 to 3 mini tires stacked

Is this the rate of speed you want to travel?

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