Fast-Charging Lithium Batteries Disputed

But MIT inventors are holding fast-very fast indeed

3 min read

24 June 2009—A new material enabling lithium-ion batteries to charge in just 10 to 20 seconds is either too good to be true or more than 10 times better than advertised.  Those are the battle lines in a dispute that’s been erupting since late May among battery researchers over whether the material has the potential to transform the usability of electric vehicles (EVs).

The fight began with a report in the journal Nature in March 2009 by materials scientists at MIT claiming an ultrafast-charging form of lithium-iron phosphate, the material employed as the positive electrode, or cathode, in the most promising lithium-battery design for EV applications. Leading the attack against MIT’s claim is a quartet of physicists from the United States, Canada, and France. They include University of Texas mechanical engineering professor John Goodenough, one of the original inventors of the lithium-iron-phosphate cathode. The principal argument in their critique, which was based on a close reading of the Nature report and published online by the Journal of Power Sources on 30 May, infers that the material actually demonstrates only rapid discharge. ”They can discharge at that rate but not charge,” says Alain Mauger, a physicist at the Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris.

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Greg Mably

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