Originally published on Gas2.
Scientists and researchers around the world are working on improved battery technology that will facilitate the transition away from fossil fuels to electric vehicles. Their quest is for a battery that is lighter, cheaper, and smaller, with greater energy density. It is unlikely anyone will find a single solution that checks all those boxes, but incremental improvements are occurring almost daily.
Most people are focused on batteries with longer range. A public perception is beginning to emerge that any electric car should be capable of travelling at least 200 miles before it needs to be recharged. But what if a battery could be restored to full capacity in under a second? Wouldn’t that ease people’s fears about running out of juice away from home?
Two researchers in Norway say they have invented just such a device. Professor Ola Nilsen of the Chemistry Department at the University of Oslo and Knut Bjarne Gandrud, a graduate of the university who now works in Belgium, say they have invented a battery that can be recharged in just half a second. Their discovery could revolutionize the electric vehicle industry.
“Yes, maybe this could be something big,” Gandrud says. “We have created a battery that is the world’s fastest recharging. It can be recharged at a half second. Initially, we think that this may be a good solution for the future of environmentally friendly buses. To save most weight, we envisage that these buses only need battery power to run from one stop to the next. At each stop, it can be rapidly replenished.” (Translated by Google.)
He acknowledges that the battery he and Professor Nilson have come up with may not be well suited to private passenger cars. But it could be important for urban buses and heavy trucks that perform many stops and starts during the course of a day. Rather than hauling around tons of heavy batteries, they could simply recharge instantaneously every few miles at dedicated charging stations. With lithium becoming scarce and more expensive because of rapid growth in electric vehicles, rapid recharging could save more money than the charging infrastructure costs.
“The battery solution we have found is probably not particularly well suited for electric cars,” says Gandrud. “The strength of our battery is in blazing charge, but it is not one you can drive a long way. Further research on batteries may be able to resolve both: speedy storage and the possibility of long driving. But this is complex stuff. We worked on our battery for four years before we got a breakthrough.”
Thanks to Leif Hansen, who lives near Bergen, Norway, and alerted me to this story.
Source: Bergens Tidende
UPDATE: I was able to contact Knut Gandrud by email today. He kindly referred me to a link that has more technical information about his discovery. http://www.tu.no/artikler/de-har-lagt-grunnlaget-for-batterier-som-kan-lades-1000-ganger-raskere/346703 Thanks to the magic of Google Translate, we can now read this report in English.
Like all laboratory discoveries, there is a long road between research and commercial application. Please let me know if you have additional questions for Knut. He is quite willing to talk about his discovery.