A team led by Hansan Liu, Gilbert Brown and Parans Paranthaman of the US Department of Energy laboratory’s Chemical Sciences Division found that titanium dioxide creates a highly desirable material that increases surface area and features a fast charge-discharge capability for lithium-ion batteries. Compared with conventional technologies, the differences in charge time and capacity are said to be striking.

"We can charge our battery to 50 per cent of full capacity in six minutes, while the traditional graphite-based lithium-ion battery would be just 10 per cent charged at the same current," Liu said.

Compared with commercial lithium-titanate material, the ORNL compound is claimed to boast a higher capacity—256 versus 165 milliampere hours per gram—and a sloping discharge voltage that is good for controlling the state of charge.

This characteristic, combined with the fact that oxide materials are extremely safe and long-lasting alternatives to commercial graphite, make it well suited to hybrid-electric vehicles and other high-power applications.