If there’s one common complaint shared across Android and iPhone users it’s that battery life could always stand to be better. Though there have been advancements in lithium-ion battery technology over the years, the software we run these days is much more complex than it was during the early smartphone era days. In other words, battery efficiency is having a tough time keeping up with how rigorously we use our devices.
On the battery front, Stanford researchers recently developed a new aluminum-ion battery that promises to deliver a number of improvements over the lithium-ion battery packs that currently grace our smartphones today. Not only is Stanford’s battery technology less prone to exploding, but it can also reach a full charge in just about a minute’s time. Imagine being low on juice and plugging in your device and reaching a full 100% charge before you can barely finish taking a sip of your soda.
Even better, the prototype aluminum-ion battery Stanford has come up is extremely durable, which is to say it can endure a greater number of charge/recharge cycles than today’s lithium-ion batteries.
Research on aluminum-ion batteries isn’t new but a sticking point to a commercial product has always been finding suitable materials for the anode and cathode that maintain their performance over repeated charge and discharge cycles.
“We accidentally discovered that a simple solution is to use graphite,” said [Stanford Professor Dai Hongjie].
The result is a battery that can survive 7,500 charging cycles without losing performance. That’s well over the roughly 100 cycles that other prototype aluminum-ion batteries can last at present and also more than the typical 1,000 cycles from current lithium-ion batteries, according to the university.
Of course, the battery, being in a prototype stage, does have some drawbacks. Most glaringly, the aluminum-ion batteries Stanford is working with store less energy. So while the batteries can charge up quickly, they may not provide the longer battery life consumers have been demanding for years. Still, improvements in this regard may be coming down the pipeline soon.
“Our battery produces about half the voltage of a typical lithium battery,” Hongjie said in a press release. “Improving the cathode material could eventually increase the voltage and energy density. Otherwise, our battery has everything else you’d dream that a battery should have: inexpensive electrodes, good safety, high-speed charging, flexibility and long cycle life. I see this as a new battery in its early days. It’s quite exciting.”
But not everyone is excited or even impressed.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk yesterday put a damper on the announcement via Twitter. Tesla, of course, knows a thing or two about battery technologies and company executives have historically cautioned folks not to get too excited about unproven technologies that only exist in research labs.
Battery “breakthroughs” need to state power *and* energy density (not the same thing), plus how long they last. They usually fail on energy.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 6, 2015
It’s a fair point.
In any event, a Stanford video on its new battery research can be viewed below.