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Pacific Northwest National Laboratory scientist Jie Xiao prepares and tests lithium ion batteries. (PNNL photo)

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., was recognized today for its work on a project that promises to significantly increase the performance and reduce the recharge time for the types of lithium ion batteries used in phones, notebook computers and electric vehicles.

It’s one of two projects from PNNL recognized today in the “R&D 100” awards from R&D Magazine, considered the “Oscars of Innovation.”

The project uses small quantities of graphene — super-thin sheets of carbon atoms that work as efficient electrical conductors — as part of the electrode materials inside a battery. The PNNL researchers figured out a new way to synthesize mixtures of graphene and titanium oxide. In their research, the electrodes with graphene were up to three times better than those containing titanium dioxide alone.

The end result: Phones can charge in 10 minutes, and electric vehicles in a few hours.

PNNL, part of the Department of Energy, collaborated on the project with Ilhan Aksay at Princeton University and Vorbeck Materials Corp. of Maryland, which is offering the technology for licensing by electronics and auto manufacturers.

The lab in Richland was also recognized for an air purification system that removes carbon dioxide from inside a submarine.

More details on both projects in this PNNL news release.

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