Now, can I have one of these?
A new twist on the familiar lithium ion battery has yielded a type of power-storing material that charges and discharges at lightning speed. The finding could offer a boost for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles and possibly allow cell phone batteries to regain a full charge in seconds rather than hours.
Rechargeable lithium ion batteries are small and light, yet can store copious amounts of energy, making them ideal for use in everyday electronic devices such as iPods and laptops. This valuable property, called energy density, can be scaled up for hybrid cars as well as for the all-electric Roadster built by Tesla Motors that relies on lithium ion batteries…and the similarly powered Chevy Volt plug-in electric, about to hit the market.
One downside: lithium ion batteries do not dispense their charge—carried by lithium ions and electrons, hence the power source’s name—very quickly compared with some other types of storage batteries. Like a huge auditorium that only has a few doors, getting a large volume of patrons (lithium ions) in and out is a drawn-out affair…The slow exchange of ions also means lithium ion batteries recharge slowly—just think of how long you have to charge your tiny cell phone.
In an attempt to pick up the pace, the M.I.T. researchers coated the lithium iron phosphate material with an ion conductor, which in this case was a layer of glasslike lithium phosphate. Sure enough, the charge-carrying ions traveled much faster from their storage medium; a prototype battery the scientists built completely charged in about 10 to 20 seconds…
Two companies have already licensed the technology, according to Byoungwoo Kang. Researchers are not sure how much these batteries will cost when they hit the market, but Kang says they should be reasonably priced, given that it should be relatively cheap to produce them.
I’m ready to get in line. I already have plans for photo-voltaic panels for our home; but, if I can afford to get off the grid altogether I’d love it.