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New material improves Li-ion battery charging speed by 10 times

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Nickel niobate (NiNb2O6) is a new material that in the researchers’ view, has very attractive properties such as returning to its original level after many cycles of ultrafast charging. This primarily has to do with its ‘open’ and regular crystal structure, resulting in channels for charge transport that are identical. This means that it performs better than graphite, the standard anode material.

New material improves Li-ion battery charging speed by 10 times
a,b) Schematic diagrams of the NiNb2O6 host structure. (Graph by University of Twente).

Other nanomaterials being investigated for the same purpose show channels that are organized in a more random way. This may cause the deposit of lithium on the anode material, resulting in poorer performance after every cycle.

Also, even though manufacturing this type of nanomaterial is complicated, this is not the case for nickel niobate, which doesn’t require a cleanroom infrastructure.

One disadvantage of nickel niobate is, however, that it has a higher volumetric energy density than graphite. This is because weight and energy density increases when trying to avoid the negative consequences of high charging and discharging rates.

The researchers behind the study tested the first full batteries with the new anode material paired with various existing cathode materials. They found that this version would be ideal for introducing it into an energy grid, in electrically powered machines that require fast charging and decharging, or in electrically powered heavy transport.

They believe that some steps still have to be taken to be able to use it in electric cars.

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