According to a recent report in Nature, two researchers at MIT, Byoungwoo Kang and Gerbrand Ceder have devised a way to make lithium ions move faster. This is a potentially significant development because if lithium ions could just get a move on, the potential for rapidly recharging lithium-based batteries is tremendous. And we’re not talking about just slicing 20% off the recharge time, the potential here is for laptop batteries that recharge in roughly a minute. For a voyaging sailboat, this could mean minutes of battery charging time instead of hours.
Contributing editors Chuck Husick, Steve D’Antonio and Nigel Calder all commented on the possibilities of such a battery.
“Will be interesting to see if it can be scaled up to provide large individual cells. Creating a battery with hundreds of cells poses some significant management and reliability challenges.
“The work being done using carbon nano particles in one plate of a lead acid battery may be of more practical value for many applications where modest DC voltages, 12-48 volts are required.
Interesting stuff. Mastervolt has a new Lithium Ion battery that has a list price of $7,000.
There are now individual lithium cells available at up to 200 Ah, with 400 Ah in the works. This creates the potential for huge capacity battery banks with a relatively small number of cells (as opposed to the 6,080 in the Tessla car at last count). The challenge then lies in the cell balancing circuits both in terms of cost and also managing the huge currents, especially in the automotive world where they can be as high as 15C (in the boat world, we will rarely see more than 1C). I believe we will have several viable offerings in the next year or so at a cost of +/- $1,000 per kWh of capacity which, although high, is actually cost effective over the lifetime of the battery. I’m hoping to test some of these in our hybrid project, maybe next year but most likely in 2011.