A cell phone battery could fully charge in 10 minutes rather than two to five hours using technology developed by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Princeton University and a Maryland company.
Researchers at the Department of Energy's Richland laboratory, working with Vorbeck Materials Corp. and Princeton University scientists, have demonstrated that adding small quantities of high quality graphene to battery materials can dramatically improve their performance.
The addition of graphene improves a lithium-ion battery's ability to recharge repeatedly after it has been fully drained and makes charging much faster, said Jun Liu, a PNNL laboratory fellow for material sciences.
"It's a great convenience," he said. The technology also could allow batteries to store larger amounts of energy.
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Battelle, which operates PNNL, has entered into a cooperative research and development agreement with Vorbeck for use of its unique graphene material, Vor-x, in battery materials synthesis research. The patented material was developed at Princeton University.
PNNL has helped prove the concept at the laboratory scale and now the technology will be scaled up for potential consumer use.
"Vorbeck produces a very high quality graphene and they have demonstrated an ability to get products successfully to market," said Gordon Graff, PNNL project manager, in a statement.
Vorbeck expects to be able to bring a product to the marketplace quickly at the completion of the research and development agreement. It already is working with materials distribution and supply company Targray Technology International to bring novel battery electrode materials to market.
Vorbeck is looking at applications in devices such as cell phones and power tools that use lithium-ion batteries. But it also could be adapted to function as part of a hybrid battery system to extend the range of electric vehicles, according to Vorbeck.
Existing technology allows an electric vehicle to travel only about 100 miles after charging overnight at a 240-volt charging station or up to 24 hours on a typical home 120-volt plug-in.
PNNL continues to work on other improvements to lithium-ion batteries for cars to help make them less expensive, longer-lasting and safer, Liu said.
Money for PNNL's research on graphene materials for batteries came from DOE's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Technology Commercialization Fund.
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