One of the things seem to be holding back the adoption of electric vehicles is the time it takes to charge the batteries. For example, a 30 minute charge for 130 miles (209 kilometers) is already incredibly fast for an electric vehicle, but for a car owner who can fill up a tank in five minutes to be able to drive 300 miles (483 kilometers), half an hour is eternity. The long wait may be over, if researchers at Purdue University will have anything to do with it.
Vilas Pol and hist team have come up with an anode made of tin-oxide nano particles that can double the charging capacity of graphite. As a result, a lithium ion battery using the new anode can be charged in 30 minutes with a capacity of 430 mAh/gram as opposed to one using a graphite anode charged for 10 hours with at most 372 mAh/gram of charge.
Furthermore, it shouldn’t take long for this material to be rolled out into the battery industry. One simply has to put tin alkoxide into boiling water then heat the nanoparticles to 400 degrees Celsius (752 degrees Fahrenheit). It is at this temperature that the nanoparticles form a network with pores that allow the anode to expand and contract during the charge-discharge cycle.
“These spaces are very important for this architecture,” according to Vinodkumar Etacheri, also of Purdue. “Without the proper pore size, and interconnection between individual tin oxide nanoparticles, the battery fails.”
This presents a new direction in battery research. For years, researchers have been looking at nanostructured silicon to replace graphite. And while silicon apparently had a higher charge capacity than graphite, it’s ability to withstand the rigors of the charge and discharge cycle was not at par with the latter.
The verdict is still out as to whether the new material will last as long as graphite anodes. Just the same, the finding is charging the battery research world.