The holy grail of battery development is a battery with high capacity plus the ability to discharge and then recharge quickly, or translated into vehicle terms, a battery that holds the energy equivalent of the standard gas tank that you can recharge as quickly as a gas station fill up.
Supercapacitors can charge and discharge quickly but their energy density is low. So how do you combine the fast charge and discharge rates of capacitors with the storage capacity of batteries? Nanotechnology. Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have been tinkering in their lab and think they’ve come up with something.
Here, we demonstrate very large battery charge and discharge rates with minimal capacity loss by using cathodes made from a self-assembled three-dimensional bicontinuous nanoarchitecture consisting of an electrolytically active material sandwiched between rapid ion and electron transport pathways. Rates of up to 400C and 1,000C for lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride chemistries, respectively, are achieved (where a 1C rate represents a one-hour complete charge or discharge), enabling fabrication of a lithium-ion battery that can be 90% charged in 2 minutes.
The key part of that quote is “90% charged in 2 minutes.”
This is still in the lab and they give no time estimate before it’s commercially available. It’s one more possibility and sooner or later, one of these technologies will break out. Interesting.