Why can’t phone companies or laptop companies make it so we can charge our devices almost instantaneously?


Why can’t phone companies or laptop companies make it so we can charge our devices almost instantaneously?

In: Technology

Because we still use batteries. Charging a battery causes a chemical reaction that releases heat. If you tried to super-fast-charge a battery of any kind of current technology, the battery would overheat and explode.

There’s a few reasons. The biggest is that charging a battery makes it get hot and you have to allow that heat to escape or else it will melt. The faster you charge it, the hotter it gets. So without having a giant fan on your phone, you can only charge it so fast before it will melt or blow up.

A second one is that there are limits to how fast a battery can charge and you just can’t go beyond that. Different types of batteries charge faster than others. There may one day be a battery that can be instantly charged, but we haven’t found the right design or combination of materials to do that.

Charging a battery is a chemical process where chemical reactions are reversed by the addition of energy (the charger). Such processes takes time. In contrast to a capacitor, which can be charged instantly, the energy is stored via a physical process i.e the electrons are stored at or within the surface without changing the chemistry. The downside is that they will discharge equally fast.

Mostly because any battery system has to be a compromise of several factors that work against each other.

1) Cost

2) Safety

3) Amount of charge it can hold (devices need to work on battery for some time)

4) Speed of charge/discharge

5) Space/weight

So you can get a quick charge battery, but to make it small enough and if it doesn’t cost a lot, the amount of charge might be too small – your phone or laptop can only last 15 minutes – which is practically useless for a user.

Or if you ignore size and weight, you can probably design a battery that can charge quickly and hold a lot of charge, but it needs special cooling etc and your laptop and phone weighs 10kg and the size of a suitcase – again not too many people will buy this.

It is like asking a vehicle manufacturer to build a car that is as small and maneuverable as a bicycle, can carry 10 tons like a truck, has the acceleration and speed of a sports car, and has the fuel consumption of a motorcycle. We can imagine it but it isn’t practically makeable.