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New lithium-ion battery design that’s 2,000 times more powerful, recharges 1,000 times faster

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new lithium-ion battery technology that is 2,000 times more powerful than comparable batteries. According to the researchers, this is not simply an evolutionary step in battery tech, “It’s a new enabling technology… it breaks the normal paradigms of energy sources. It’s allowing us to do different, new things.”

Currently, energy storage is all about trade-offs. You can have lots of power (watts), or lots of energy (watt-hours), but you can’t generally have both. Supercapacitors can release a massive amount of power, but only for a few seconds; fuel cells can store a vast amount of energy, but are limited in their peak power output. This a problem because most modern applications of bleeding-edge tech — smartphones, wearable computers, electric vehicles — require large amounts of power and energy. Lithium-ion batteries are currently the best solution for high-power-and-energy applications, but even the best li-ion battery designs demand that industrial designers and electronic engineers make serious trade-offs when creating a new device.

Which brings us neatly onto the University of Illinois’ battery, which has a higher power density than a supercapacitor, and yet comparable energy density to current nickel-zinc and lithium-ion batteries. According to the university’s press release, this new battery could allow for wireless devices to transmit their signals 30 times farther — or, perhaps more usefully, be equipped with a battery that’s 30 times smaller. If that wasn’t enough, this new battery is rechargeable – and can be charged 1,000 times faster than conventional li-ion batteries. In short, this is a dream battery. (See: DoE calls for a chemical battery with 5x capacity, within 5 years – can it be done?)
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