New research headed by several Japanese academic institutions may substantially reduce the required charging time for a Lithium-ion battery.


Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are known for high energy density and very low self discharge rates. But despite being the primary type of battery used for a vast majority of mobile devices today, the basic chemical configuration of its electrolytes had remained the same for almost two decades.

A new breakthrough research in Japan however might end this long stalemate for Li-ion battery electrolytes. The University of Tokyo’s Faculty of Engineering, in cooperation with the University of Kyoto, and Japan’s National Institute for Materials Science have found a new candidate electrolyte that be efficiently used for a Li-ion cell. This new electrolyte exhibits both very high reactivity and degradation resistance, both properties that could potentially boost the overall performance of current Li-ion batteries further.

High concentration levels are usually associated with low reactivity, and thus poor electrolyte performance. The new electrolyte mixture however, uses a solvent that is actually four times more concentrated than most solvents used in Li-ion electrolytes, such as ethylene carbonate.

The entirely new physical properties of this fluid mixture gives way to the possibility of developing Li-ion batteries that can charge faster and provide more electric power per unit time. Specifically, the research looks at shrinking charging times to only a third of normal, and increasing the nominal cell voltage of a standard Li-ion battery from 3V to 5V.

While this new breakthrough may mean faster charging for phones and tablets, the research is actually more focused on its possible applications in the electric automotive industry. A Li-ion battery pack that can be charged three times faster than normal could very well deliver the final blow to the electric car’s longest persisting disadvantage. Though of course, the advantages that this new breakthrough may bring, in conjunction with other potentially game-breaking battery technologies, still remains a very important point of interest to battery technology research in general.

Source: University of Tokyo (JP)