Li-ion batteries could be charged up to five times more quickly

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A way of monitoring the internal temperatures and electrode potentials of lithium-ion batteries, developed by WMG, has found the batteries could be safely charged up to five times more quickly than currently recommended.

In order to avoid catastrophic failure, manufacturers stipulate a maximum charging rate based on what they think are the crucial temperature and potential levels to avoid. However, by monitoring a battery’s internal temperature and ‘per-electrode’ status, WMG has determined that commercially available Li-ion batteries could be charged at least five times more quickly.

The approach uses miniature reference electrodes and Fibre Bragg Gratings threaded through a bespoke strain protection layer. The result is a device that can have direct contact with all key parts of the battery, while withstanding electrical, chemical and mechanical stress during the battery’s operation. The technology, which works in-situ during a battery’s normal operation without impeding its performance, has been tested on standard commercially available batteries.

Lead researcher Dr Tazdin Amietszajew, pictured, said: “Faster charging, as always, comes at the expense of overall battery life, but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly.

“This technology is ready to apply to commercial batteries, but we would need to ensure that battery management systems on vehicles and the infrastructure, can accommodate variable charging rates.”

WMG’s Dr Rohit Bhagat noted: “This method gave us a novel instrumentation design for use on commercial 18650 cells that minimises adverse and previously unavoidable alterations to the cell geometry. We are confident that similar techniques can also be developed for use in pouch cells.”