Elecjet claims its upcoming Apollo Ultra battery can top up its 10,000mAh capacity in a half hour. The batteries use graphene to deliver ultra-fast charging and long service life. It’s part of the steadily evolving battery technologies that could improve everything from phones to electric cars.
“Higher-capacity and more reliable batteries mean that our laptops, cell phones, watches, headphones, and all of our other increasingly portable electronic devices will last longer and perform better,” explained Bob Blake, vice president at device manufacturer Fi, in an email interview. “The better our batteries perform, the more we can live our lives untethered from a wall outlet.”
Graphene is a type of carbon composed of a layer of atoms arranged in a two-dimensional honeycomb nanostructure. The material was described in 2004 by Andre Geim and Konstantin ‘Kostya’ Novoselov, working at the University of Manchester. The team received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 2010.
Graphene can charge quicker and last longer compared to regular lithium-ion batteries, Elecjet says. The $65 Apollo Ultra battery is expected to ship early next year.
“The graphene composite cell is not a pure graphene battery,” Elecjet wrote on its website. “Theoretically, it is still a lithium battery but with graphene composite materials added to the positive electrode to increase the activity. On the negative graphite, the surface is coated with layers of graphene coating, which reduces impedance.”
Researchers are working on several promising battery chemistries and technologies, including nanomaterials, Donovan Wallace, vice president of electronics at Design 1st, told Lifewire in an email interview.
“These advancements, coupled with improved battery tech and energy harvesting, could result in some IoT and personal gadgets seeing an improvement of two to four times the interval between charges,” he said. “This longer battery life is not only better for the user but also for the environment.”
Ian Hosein, a professor at Syracuse University, for example, is researching materials that could be used in the next generation of batteries. Most current devices use rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, technology that was first commercialized in the early 1990s. But Lithium can be relatively expensive, difficult to recycle, and lithium-based batteries can have issues with overheating.
Hosein and his team have been studying more abundant materials like calcium, aluminum, and sodium to see how they can be used to engineer new batteries.
“If you want to push electric vehicles, you need to make sure it can deliver a lot of power and charge quickly,” Hosein said in a news release. “That is a fundamental material science question. It requires careful research and development on different materials that can charge and store ions.”
Improvements to existing lithium-ion batteries could also give gadgets a boost. Ceylon Graphite is a company producing natural graphite and exploring processing options for electric vehicles and battery storage.
“We are seeing advances in lithium-ion battery chemistry, some variations in cathode chemistry, more nickel, less cobalt, etc.,” Ceylon Graphite’s director Donald Baxter told Lifewire. “In the anode, we are seeing some enhancements to the graphite using small amounts of silicon. These advances are resulting in longer life of the battery as well as longer-lasting charges. In some cases, advancements result in a battery being able to charge faster.”
But don’t expect to see tremendous advances in battery life anytime soon, warned tech expert Robert Heiblim in an email interview with Lifewire.
“There have been many ‘announcements’ of ‘breakthroughs’ in battery chemistry over the years,” he said. “However, getting these to be mass-producible and work at scale has proven much harder than a demonstration in the lab. Remember that a lab experiment may work, but not be easy to replicate, and often it is very costly which does not make a practical solution.”