Researchers smash 'energy density' record for rechargeable lithium batteries

Battery meter.
(Image credit: Getty Images - Alengo)

A team of researchers at the Institute of Physics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences says it has created a record-breaking 711 Wh/kg (watt-hour per kilogram) rechargeable lithium battery.

The previous record belongs to the research team at Dalhousie University in Canada, which made a 575 Wh/kg anode-free pouch cell just last year. The Chinese Academy of Sciences researchers tested their battery at 711.3 Wh/kg, with a volumetric "energy density" of 1,653.65 Wh/liter, making it the highest energy density lithium battery on record.

For context, the energy density of Tesla's new 4680 cells is 272-296 Wh/kg. This team (via New Atlas) made a battery cell with nearly double the energy density, meaning you'll get more juice with much less weight—but there are some challenges to overcome before this kind of battery shows up in our gaming laptops.

The researchers gave no indication of what sort of energy output you can get from their rechargeable battery nor the rate of degradation, or what thermal problems may arise. The research team admitted that much is needed to solve issues like "battery safety and lifespan" and that the battery technology is far from "practical application."

The rechargeable 10-Ah pouch prototype cell "required extremely advanced process technologies such as high-loading electrode preparation and lean electrolyte injection," which means it would be costly to reproduce commercially for now, New Atlas notes.

Nevertheless, the researchers wrote in their paper that this ultra-high energy density battery technology can fill China's "urgent needs for high-performance power supply technology in special application scenarios such as high altitude and deep space, as well as in the future electric aviation field." 

Regardless of the industry, the demand for higher-density batteries at smaller sizes is high, and it'll be interesting to see how far we can push the limits of a lithium battery until we find a new power source, like Element Zero in Mass Effect. I just want my gaming laptop to last more than an hour when it's not plugged in, so I'll take what I can get.

(Image credit: Getty Images - Alengo)

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Jorge Jimenez
Hardware writer, Human Pop-Tart

Jorge is a hardware writer from the enchanted lands of New Jersey. When he's not filling the office with the smell of Pop-Tarts, he's reviewing all sorts of gaming hardware, from laptops with the latest mobile GPUs to gaming chairs with built-in back massagers. He's been covering games and tech for over ten years and has written for Dualshockers, WCCFtech, Tom's Guide, and a bunch of other places on the world wide web.