Fast-Charging Batteries Might Actually Be Okay

Low and slow. They say that’s the best way to cook a giant hunk of meat so that you don’t burn the outside while leaving the inside super raw. The same kind of philosophy has, up until now, applied to how we charge our batteries. We know that charging batteries more slowly helps to extend their overall life, while fast-charging with too high of a current degrades the battery, leaving you with fewer charging cycles. We sacrifice battery life for convenience. As it turns out, that may not necessarily be the case.

A group of scientists from Stanford, in collaboration with a number of other researchers from other labs, made some small coin cell batteries and then they charged them using different levels of current for different periods of time. They wanted to see if fast-charging over a shorter period of time was realistically any different from slow-charging over an extended period of time. “We were able to look at thousands of electrode nanoparticles at a time and get snapshots of them at different stages during charging and discharging,” said the study’s lead author Yiyang Li. “This study is the first to do that comprehensively, under many charging and discharging conditions.”

The long and the short of it is they believe they may be able to tweak the process or adjust the electrode material in the batteries such that they can take advantage of a fast-charging mechanism without degrading the long battery life they’d get otherwise. This can have far-reaching ramifications, because it might mean that we’ll soon be able to fully charge our smartphones in a matter of minutes, rather than hours. Better still, in the case of electric vehicles like the Nissan Leaf that typically have to be charged overnight, a fast-charging station on the highway could extend the EVs range for longer drives without really hurting the batteries housed within. Electric vehicles might actually be viable options for road trips.


Via Treehugger

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