back to article Samsung's graphene batteries promise to charge five times faster – without exploding

Samsung Mobile (or at least a fan blog) has claimed development of its graphene battery technology is, er, all wrapped up, raising hopes of finding them in products soon. SamsungMobile.News helpfully tweeted yesterday: Samsung has completed the developing of it's Graphene Batteries👌🏼 pic.twitter.com/pKlX3eNiDY — SamsungMobile …

  1. Sil

    Not Samsung

    @Samsung_News_ is not a Samsung account, it's an independent blog.

    1. drand
      Headmaster

      Re: Not Samsung

      It's the rogue apostrophe that gives it away, innit?

  2. jms222

    Bullshit

    Development done and dusted and close the lid on it forever. No process or other optimisation ? No field testing ?

    Or could simply some new agile thing I simply can't be arsed to understand.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Bullshit

      I suspect agile methodologies on a completely new hadware design don't quite cut the mustard - it's quite difficult and expensive to iterate forwards.

      In which case, the next step once "development" has been completed is testing. I suspect they're going to be quite careful of putting this into the field until rigorous testing has been completed - they don't want to get burnt (literally and metaphorically) as they did before with the Note 7, particularly as this is likely to be part of a flagship product

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[...] there was some way to go to maintaining the capacity of the battery: it was down to 78.6 per cent after 500 cycles."

    Assuming one recharge a day - then nearly two years of life before the phone is no longer the "must have" model. Marketing and many punters will be happy with that.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      That depends if it steadies out or falls off a cliff after the 500 cycles. After 1000 would it be 70% or <50%? With the former, that would be commercially viable right now.

      More to the point, fast charging is all A-OK but what about energy density? Can an approx 3000mAh battery with this technology still fit inside a 6-inch smartphone without significant increase in weight/depth?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sod phones

    Think cars

    Except now we'll need 500A charging cables.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sod phones

      Except now we'll need 500A charging cables.

      Tesla Superchargers operate at 400V and 250 amps already, and the Generation 3 model was rumoured to offer 430-525 amps with compatible vehicles, although I don't know if that will ever reach production - the faster you charge, the higher the internal resistance of the battery and thus greater heat generated in a shorter time - I'd guess there are safety and longevity concerns.

      In terms of the cable thickness, the Supercharger lines are actually not much thicker than the hose of a petrol pump.

      1. the spectacularly refined chap

        Re: Sod phones

        In terms of the cable thickness, the Supercharger lines are actually not much thicker than the hose of a petrol pump.

        Thickness is one thing, stiffness is quite another. My father used to work on diesel generator sets and they would deal with heavyweight cables on a regular basis. The actual engineers would always insist unreeling cables was a two man job once it got into the 150-200A territory.

        Wasn't very popular with management. Especially if it was a hire set for a weekend, as if that makes a difference to the properties of the required cable.

      2. Killing Time

        Re: Sod phones

        'Except now we'll need 500A charging cables.'

        Cable sizing is specified by the potential fault current of the circuit, not the expected load current.

        i.e. If there was suddenly a dead short on the end of the cable instead of a load, could the cable cope with the power flow without burning out, until the protective device next up the chain activates. This being the case load heating characteristics have no impact.

        Relatively short cables of a very good conductor such as copper can take surprisingly large loads for short periods of time. It wouldn't surprise me at all if the existing supercharger cables could cope.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Sod phones

      What you'll actually need is a pretty good bank of supercapacitors and/or float batteries, else the neighbourhood is going to experience a momentary brownout every time a Tesla starts charging.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sod phones

        What is the rating of the average sub-station? What's the current loading capacity of the cables running down the average street? How many fast charging cars can be coped with at once.

        The labs I used to work in needed 5 substations in the building and we needed 11KV lines running around the galleries.

        1. Killing Time

          Re: Sod phones

          'What is the rating of the average sub-station? What's the current loading capacity of the cables running down the average street? How many fast charging cars can be coped with at once'

          Any answers you get would be meaningless because you can't define average in this context. The reality will be that the charging stations will probably negotiate their loading at any one time based on tariff, energy source and local loading. If the local power transformer is overloading the first indication is the voltage drops off. Some simple electronics will detect that and the smarts will do the rest. To think you will get first dibs on the available power because you were plugged in first is a little naive.

      2. mosw

        Re: Sod phones

        "... else the neighbourhood is going to experience a momentary brownout ..."

        I understand that a few Tesla drivers have also experienced momentary brown-outs while using autopilot.

  5. onefang Silver badge
    Joke

    So instead of bursting into flames, Samsung batteries will crumble to dust?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still not what customers really want

    Faster charging is a good thing - but equally it is a marginal gain for most people. The one thing that most of us want is longer battery life. If I had a phone that took a day to charge and lasted two weeks, I'd take that in preference to a phone that lasted a day and charged in two minutes (which is where we seem to be heading).

    1. jmch Silver badge
      Happy

      Re: Still not what customers really want

      "Still not what customers really want"

      "I'd take that in preference to... "

      Based on sales of phones in the last few years, what customers really want is quite different from what you prefer!

      Joking apart, if you want a phone to last 2 weeks on a charge, most dumbphones can do that if you're not chatting away all day, and even smartphones in ultra-power-saving mode (ie mostly acting as a dumbphone) can last around a week or so. Manufacturers have also been pushing thinner/lighter to the detriment of battery capacity, and savings made by lower-power-consuming chips are eaten up by the tons of apps that insist on running in the background.

      Clear out the app cruft, allow a larger, heavier and slightly thicker phone, move to ultra-low-power 7nm chips, and maybe add an e-ink secondary screen for reading text* and maybe you could double or triple the current 1-2 day life to a bit less than a week, still quite a bit short of your target. Batteries are limited by energy density and there's only so much juice you can squeeze into a handheld-sized pack, and for most users it's clear that power-use trumps battery life considerations as long as they can get a day of full-whack mobile-ing.

      And given how ubiquitous power points and compatible chargers are, I rather understand that.

      * by the way whatever happened to that Russian dual-screen full colour + e-ink phone? I haven't seen any other manufacturer copy that so I guess it was a bust?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still not what customers really want

        Clear out the app cruft, allow a larger, heavier and slightly thicker phone, move to ultra-low-power 7nm chips, and maybe add an e-ink secondary screen for reading text* and maybe you could double or triple the current 1-2 day life to a bit less than a week

        Well, I was speaking generically. I'm actually a very light phone user, I have a Xiaomi Redmi Note 4X with a 4,100 mAh battery, and it gives me about four to five days use unless used as a satnav or similar continuous use.

        I'd agree that SALES suggest I'm wrong, but I'd challenge that in the UK it is difficult to buy a phone with a decent sized battery - unless you turn to the grey market. Lots of people think that's risky, despite the poor support that the official imports usually have. Even the better mid-rangers typically only offer 3,000 mAh, many are still touting miserable 2,200 mAh units.

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Still not what customers really want

        "Manufacturers have also been pushing thinner/lighter to the detriment of battery capacity,"

        For a simple reason - airlines and others have imposed Wh limits on what they'll tolerate as installed on carryon luggage and/or checked baggage.

        Samsung _could_ make a thicker S9 with 6000mAh battery, but then you'd have to leave it at home when you go to the airport.

        1. JohnFen Silver badge

          Re: Still not what customers really want

          "but then you'd have to leave it at home when you go to the airport."

          That's no problem -- as a USian, there is no way I'd be willing to take my regular phone with me on a flight. There's just too much risk that the TSA might want to examine it. I take a burner instead.

        2. Psion1k

          Re: Still not what customers really want

          "For a simple reason - airlines and others have imposed Wh limits on what they'll tolerate as installed on carryon luggage and/or checked baggage.

          Samsung _could_ make a thicker S9 with 6000mAh battery, but then you'd have to leave it at home when you go to the airport."

          According to this AnandTech review, the Samsung S9+ comes with a 3500mAh battery, which comes out at 13.47Wh.

          https://www.anandtech.com/show/12520/the-galaxy-s9-review/8

          According to this explanation at PetaPixel, 100 watt-hours (Wh) is the limit.

          https://petapixel.com/2018/05/16/tsa-battery-restrictions-clearing-up-confusion-on-flying-with-lithium-ion/

          The FAA also say the same, though it is listed under uninstalled batteries/powerbanks

          https://www.faa.gov/about/initiatives/hazmat_safety/more_info/?hazmat=7

          So even at 6000mAh (<28Wh), it is well below the 100Wh limit.

          Personally, I would prefer a heavier device with a bigger battery, as I often have to resort to charging the phone on the fly due to low battery, which itself is against recommendations and both generates excessive heat, and reduces battery life.

    2. TrumpSlurp the Troll Silver badge

      Re: Still not what customers really want

      A phone that lasted a day and charged in two minutes would do me. It would be trivial to couple it to a charger for a couple of minutes to keep it topped up.

      Only an issue if you spend your life away from electricity.

      So not most 1st world customers.

      1. teknopaul Bronze badge

        Re: Still not what customers really want

        I seem to be regularly a couple of days parted from the bloody type c usb charger this phone needs.

      2. JohnFen Silver badge

        Re: Still not what customers really want

        I strongly want to recharge at the lowest frequency possible. How long it takes to do the charge is much less important. If the only thing that required charging was the phone, I'd agree with you -- but it's not. I have several other devices that also require charging, and when the device count rises, how often they need charging becomes more important than how long it takes.

        This is, for example, one of the reasons why I don't use wireless headphones -- I don't need yet another device to have to charge.

    3. Schultz

      Re: Still not what customers really want

      I must say I am impressed by my new 'fast charging' Mi8SE phone. Plugging it for 15 minutes while preparing the kid's school snack gives me enough charge for a day or two - it is a game changer.

    4. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Still not what customers really want

      I think the test is: I pick up the phone as I am about to walk out the door and discover the battery is at 15%. Can I charge it to a reasonable level (say 50%) and still not be late for my appointment?

  7. jms222

    > If I had a phone that took a day to charge

    Overnight rather than a day.

    Well if I can charge my car while I sleep and it can do enough miles the next day before I need to sleep again and can do this every day for a few years without significant degradation that is sufficient. Also doesn't cost as much as a Tesla. (Ignoring drive-sharing case.) We're just about there (60kWh Leaf and a few other models) which is great.

    1. jmch Silver badge

      "Well if I can charge my car while I sleep and it can do enough miles the next day before I need to sleep again and can do this every day for a few years without significant degradation that is sufficient"

      As long as you can always find a free and functioning charge point wherever you're parking. Currently that's a bit of a pipe dream, but I think we'll get there in the next 20 or so years

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "if I can charge my car while I sleep and it can do enough miles the next day"

      How many miles is enough? Is your enough the same as mine? Is my enough one day the same as it is another day?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        How many miles is enough? Is your enough the same as mine? Is my enough one day the same as it is another day?

        Who knows? But as a rough guide, charging at 13 amp gives about 9 miles of driving range per hour of charging. So (depending on whether you charge across the evening peak or not), you'd be able to add between 80 and 110 miles or range per night on a slow charge, plus whatever residual capacity the battery had at the start. If you have a 16 amp car charger then the range becomes 100 to 135 miles range.

        Obviously that's dependent upon model, driving style, and use of accessories, lights and heaters, but that's comfortably more than most drivers would need, although road warriors doing over 20,000 miles a year might find themselves pinched.

    3. Jtom Bronze badge

      You may never get ‘that’ call in the middle of the night, but how well will you sleep knowing that if you did, you would not be able to respond because your car was charging?

  8. MiguelC Silver badge

    "graphene ball coating"

    like a hi-tech chainmail for your ball(s)? :)

    1. Schultz

      Graphene versus Graphite

      Graphene is single layer graphite. Why then do they talk about coating those silicon balls with multilayer graphene? Must be some kind of fashion statement.

      1. Evil_Goblin

        Re: Graphene versus Graphite

        Because you've over-simplified graphene vs graphite a little too much - this article explains it quite nicely:

        https://www.azonano.com/article.aspx?ArticleID=3836

        Basically a given thickness made up of multiple layers of graphene will behave differently to the same thickness of graphite.

  9. Gene Cash Silver badge

    Graphene is HARD to make

    Considering the major obstacle to using graphene is how extremely difficult it is to make... I assume there is one prototype battery, built with extreme amounts of skilled labor, and that's going to be it for the foreseeable future.

    But it works.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Graphene is HARD to make

      Graphene is very easy to make in some forms and is already used in tennis racquets and heat sinks, but it's very hard to make in the big sheets that promise to radically change materials technology (space elevators, flexible circuit boards etc)

  10. DougS Silver badge

    Oh good

    Too bad "charging 5x faster" isn't what we want or need (before anyone says "what about cars", the charging time for cars isn't a limitation of batteries, but how much power you can get into it)

    What we want are batteries that last more than ~500 charge cycles before becoming noticeably degraded, or store more energy by volume.

    Besides, many greatly improved batteries have been "developed" over the past decade, but never seem to find their way into mass production.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Oh good

      "What we want are batteries that last more than ~500 charge cycles before becoming noticeably degraded, or store more energy by volume."

      These exist in LiIon. They've been produced in the lab for the last 5 years or so (10,000 cycles to 80% capacity) based on Olivine (a very common mineral)

      The question noone's ever answered is the energy density and charge/discharge rates.

      Everything is compromise when it comes to batteries.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Oh good

        Even if those 10,000 cycle batteries had the same energy density and charge/discharge rates, they still need to find a way to mass produce them effectively. That's where a lot of press releases about new battery technologies that work in a lab get tripped up.

  11. Nunyabiznes

    Sometimes "We're done developing that" means it was a dead end; either commercially or technically.

  12. Rich 10

    OK, every other month, a new battery or battery formulation is announced, yet it's sort of like the fusion reactor thingie, always "just 5 (50?) years away". I would someday like to see something that is really in the system and/or on the retail shelf. All we get are Lithium Ion + + (++++) because the 10 nm, whoops wrong promises, newer composition batteries vanish into the post "we've done it!" atmosphere.

    Tired of cheshire cat-ions.

  13. This post has been deleted by its author

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019