Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been researching where the bottlenecks are inside lithium-ion batteries that limit charging and discharging rates, and they've learned some interesting things. Lithium iron phosphate chemistry is particularly promising in terms of high charge and discharge rates. Researchers found that some new processes for manufacturing the lithium phosphate coating on lithium iron phosphate crystals could provide better access to the lithium ions, allowing them to move around more readily.

This all sounds similar to the premise behind the lithium iron phosphate batteries produced by A123 Systems and the lithium titanate cells produced by Altairnano. The increased surface area of material allows more ions and electrons to move in and out without heating up as much as traditional lithium cobalt oxide cells. The result is that cells made with these materials can be charged at very high rates without degrading the charge capacity over time. Imagine charging your electric vehicle in two minutes rather than 12 hours and you can understand the significance of this research.

The bigger issue remains the power needed to actually charge an automotive sized battery pack in a few minutes. A five-minute charge would require 180 kW or more, which is not something that's available at home or any existing charging stations.

[Source: ars technica]