A Rapid-Recharge Lithium Battery

MIT scientists tweak lithium formula to let battery discharge in seconds

2 min read

11 March 2009—Materials scientists at MIT report that they’ve invented a new kind of lithium-ion battery that can fully charge or discharge in seconds instead of minutes. If commercialized, the battery could allow future hybrid cars to rapidly recharge their batteries, or it may lead to new consumer products, the scientists say.

Batteries have a high-energy but low-power density. That is, they can store a lot of energy but can’t release it quickly. Batteries, such as those used in electric cars, ”have a lot of energy, so you can drive at 55 miles per hour for a long time, but the power is low. You can’t accelerate quickly,” says Gerbrand Ceder, professor of materials science and engineering at MIT. Devices called ultracapacitorsact in the opposite manner, storing less energy but releasing it in a hurry. The new battery chemistry, invented by Ceder and his graduate student Byoungwoo Kang, gives lithium-ion batteries a performance more akin to that of ultracapacitors.

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Practical Power Beaming Gets Real

A century later, Nikola Tesla’s dream comes true

8 min read
This nighttime outdoor image, with city lights in the background, shows a narrow beam of light shining on a circular receiver that is positioned on the top of a pole.

A power-beaming system developed by PowerLight Technologies conveyed hundreds of watts of power during a 2019 demonstration at the Port of Seattle.

PowerLight Technologies
Yellow

Wires have a lot going for them when it comes to moving electric power around, but they have their drawbacks too. Who, after all, hasn’t tired of having to plug in and unplug their phone and other rechargeable gizmos? It’s a nuisance.

Wires also challenge electric utilities: These companies must take pains to boost the voltage they apply to their transmission cables to very high values to avoid dissipating most of the power along the way. And when it comes to powering public transportation, including electric trains and trams, wires need to be used in tandem with rolling or sliding contacts, which are troublesome to maintain, can spark, and in some settings will generate problematic contaminants.

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