New safer battery can charge a phone in less than a minute

7 Apr 2015

A new aluminium-ion battery design is creating quite a ‘buzz’ in tech hardware circles after its designers said it’s not only much safer than current designs, but can charge a phone in less than one minute.

Much of the battery technology we use today is based on the lithium-ion model, which is widely known to be more harmful to the environment if disposed of in waste, and is also a potential fire hazard given that it reacts violently with oxygen.

However, a team from Stanford University has now published a paper in Nature detailing its findings on a battery that has surpassed all previous attempts at making an aluminium-ion battery and its design promises safety and rapid charging.

According to an interview piece with the team, the breakthrough came as a result of an accidental discovery that graphite was the best use for the battery’s cathode, the positively-charged component of the battery that reacts with the negatively-charged anode.

‘It’s quite exciting’

Until now, researchers had struggled to develop a battery that would last longer than 100 cycles, compared with 1,000 cycles that is the average for a current lithium-ion battery.

But this new battery, developed by Hongjie Dai, a professor of chemistry at Stanford, and his team, can reach as high as 7,500 cycles.

Aside from potentially powering future phones and laptops, the team says it could also be used as a means of storing renewable energy, which is envisioned by companies like Tesla as being used in a future where homes can produce their own energy and store it for future use.

“Our battery produces about half the voltage of a typical lithium battery,” Dai said of the discovery. “But improving the cathode material could eventually increase the voltage and energy density. Otherwise, our battery has everything else you’d dream that a battery should have: inexpensive electrodes, good safety, high-speed charging, flexibility and long cycle life. I see this as a new battery in its early days. It’s quite exciting.”

High speed battery image via Shutterstock

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic