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Korean boffins discover secret to quick-charge batteries

Electric car-makers get a boost

Nissan Leaf battery powered electric car

South Korean boffins say they have found a way to cut battery charging times for electric cars from hours down to just minutes.

The discovery changes the way materials used in regular batteries are treated, according to a Yonhap report.

The report says researchers placed battery ingredients in a solution containing graphite which was later carbonised “to form a dense network of conductors throughout the electrodes of the battery”.

This means that the energy-holding particles of the battery begin re-charging at the same time. With traditional batteries these particles apparently only charge from the outside-in.

The end result of all of this particulate boffinry is that the resulting batteries can be recharged in anything between 1/30 and 1/120 of the time taken to re-energise conventional rechargeable batteries.

"The research is especially remarkable in that it overcame limitations of existing lithium-ion batteries," said Cho Jae-phil, a professor at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology.

"We will further move closer to developing a new secondary battery for electric cars that can be fully recharged in less than a minute."

It will certainly take more than cutting charge times to make electric vehicles more popular throughout the world, with cost one of the biggest barriers at present.

New research from McKinsey & Co, for example, argues that only if manufacturers can acquire batteries for less than $250 per kWh will electric cars be offered at competitive prices. At present the price is more like $500 per kWh, it said.

The South Korean research, entitled Carbon-Coated Single-Crystal LiMn2O4 Nanoparticle Clusters as Cathode Material for High-Energy and High-Power Lithium-Ion Batteries, can be found here. ®

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