Watt Laboratory under Huawei’s Central Research Institute has announced a significant breakthrough in Lithium Ion (Li-ion) battery technology, with the first prototype that can withstand higher temperature and has extended battery life.

According to Huawei's research results, the new graphene-based heat-resistant technologies allow Li-ion batteries to remain functional in a temperature 10 degrees Celsius higher than the existing upper limit. The lifespan of the graphene-assisted Li-ion batteries will also be twice as long as ordinary Li-ion batteries.

As early as two years ago, Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei said at an interview that a technological revolution will take place in the coming decade or two. And the most game-changing event of our time will be the replacement of silicon by graphene. When asked why feeling so optimistic on graphene, Ren explained that chips are limited in widths as silicon pushing towards its upper limit of 7 nanometers, whereas graphene has knocked the door of the forthcoming technology revolution.

The current Li-ion batteries are already unable to fuel up the hunger of smart phones and desperately need to improve their performance. The electric car industry represented by Tesla is showing a growing appetite for Li-ion batteries.

Back in 2015, Huawei already announced its co-study program on the application of graphene with Manchester University, devoted to the development of a next-generation technology in the ICT field. The program was to last for two years and was designed to research how to apply the breakthrough findings in the graphene field to consumer electronic products and mobile communication equipments.

Huawei’s recent graphene-assisted Li-ion battery technology made three major breakthroughs: 

• add special addictives into the electrolyte so as to remove trace water and prevents electrolytes from evaporating in high temperature;

• use modified large-crystal NMC materials for cathode so as to improve thermal stability; and

• improve heat dissipation efficiency by using graphene. 

"We have performed charging and discharging tests in a high-temperature environment. The tests show that when working parameters are the same, the graphene-assisted high-temperature Li-ion battery is five degrees Celsius cooler than ordinary Li-ion batteries," Dr Yangxing Li, Chief Scientist at Watt Laboratory, said in a statement. "Over 70 percent of the graphene battery's capacity is left after it is recharged 2,000 times at a temperature of 60 degrees Celsius. Less than 13 percent of its capacity is lost after being kept in a 60 degrees Celsius environment for 200 days, " Dr Li added.

This research result will revolutionize the energy storage business for communication base stations. Outdoor base stations in hot whether regions can increase their working lifespans by over 4 years if such heat-resistant Li-ion batteries are used. The graphene-assisted Li-ion battery will also enable electric cars to drive extra miles and drones to fly safely under high temperatures.

Last year, Huawei’s Watt Laboratory presented a quick charging technology in The 56th Battery Symposium in Japan, charging a 3,000mAh battery to 48% in five minutes, which has attracted wide attention in the field. According to Dr. Li, Huawei’s quick charging batteries have been commercialized and a smartphone sporting such battery will be launched in late December this year. So stay tuned for that.