Singapore invention could help extend life of smartphone batteries

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NTU professor Yazami says invention could boost smartphones and electric vehicles

Poor batteries are the bane of smartphone users but a Singapore invention that could extend their life promises to be a game changer.

It involves restoring a battery that has reduced capacity due to repeated use.

This could take up to 10 hours but has to be done once every few years when the power flags.

Such a process could be revolutionary as lithium-ion batteries are widely used, from smartphones to laptops and electric vehicles, said Professor Rachid Yazami, an adjunct scientist at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), who devised the innovation.

The invention requires adding a third electrode on top of the two poles in typical lithium batteries.

This third component is used to drain the residual lithium-ions in one of the poles which causes battery decline. By doing so, the battery can be restored to up to 95 per cent of its original capacity.

Prof Yazami, a 64-year-old French-Moroccan, told The Straits Times at NTU last Thursday that its greatest potential would be in electric vehicles.

"People don't change their cars as often as they do smartphones - some would change a phone every two years, but you would want a car to last for more than 10 years," said Prof Yazami, who is also the chief executive of battery technology firm KVI that was set up under NTU.

He said the technology is also environmentally friendly as fewer batteries would need to be made and disposed of.