One thing we have learnt this week – rapid charge battery

1024px-2010_Mitsubishi_i_MiEV_hatchback_(2010-10-16)_03An Israeli company claims to have invented a new type of rapid charge battery that can charge a mobile phone in 30 seconds!  What’s equally extraordinary is that this breakthrough has come out Alzheimer’s disease research.  The team discovered some polypeptides which could hold a very high charge.  (A polypeptide is a short chain protein, identical in general structure but far shorter.)  The main initial use of this rapid charge battery is set to be mobile phone charging.  I can see the advantages for this use, my phone takes 2.5 hours to charge. However, this use does not strike me as vital.

The more interesting use is as a new rapid charge battery for electric cars.  The company website suggests a charge time of 5 minutes for a car with a range of 300 miles.  If true this would be revolutionary.  There are several reasons why electric cars have not taken off.  The first is their higher up front cost due the battery cost.  This as we blogged on before shows signs of falling.  The second is “range anxiety”.  To go on holiday last year would have meant 3 probably 4 charges for us.  My understanding is that 30 minutes will give an 80% charge to a typical car, then how long it takes to get to 100% is very unclear.  But it will be a time since as the voltage in a battery rises towards its open circuit voltage the rate of charging falls.  You see this on a mobile phone/laptop etc. it gets most of the way there in an hour but then charges with frustrating slowness.

The rapid charge battery could change all this, 5 minutes would be comparable to a normal petrol filling stop in time.  It would also solve the problem that apparently happens in that the limited number of charging points get occupied for hours.  There is other advantages in principle with the rapid charge battery.  Its biological nature sets us free from the damage caused by mining and resource limitations.  It should be possible to make the polypeptide using bacteria in culture.

There are two problems with this the rapid charge battery.  It cannot be retrofitted on existing devices due to its very high rates of charging.  Also its biological nature would mean it could be degraded by bacteria/fungi.  When the battery comes to the end of its life it makes disposal easy but in the meanwhile could cause problems.

Neil

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