Contour Energy Systems (CES), a portable power company that commercializes battery systems, has signed a technology licensing agreement with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for a carbon nanotube technology that can improve the power capability of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries.

The use of carbon nanotubes for battery electrodes is expected to produce a tenfold increase in the amount of power delivered from a given weight of material when compared to a conventional lithium-ion battery, according to MIT research.

In the new battery electrode being developed by CES based on the MIT technology, carbon nanotubes ‘self assemble’ through a controlled deposition process driven by electrostatic interactions into a tightly bound structure that is porous at the nanometer scale.

These carbon nanotubes contain numerous functional groups on their surfaces that quickly store a large number of lithium ions per unit mass to produce a highly porous electrode resulting in a greater number of nanotubes accessible for Li-ion storage and release, thereby delivering high power.

In addition to providing high power output in short bursts and steady, lower power for long periods, the carbon nanotube electrodes are anticipated to sustain the performance over 1,000 cycles of charging and discharging.

CES director of research and development Simon Jones said that CES will apply this technology to its line of batteries to address longevity and power density requirements for a range of applications in portable devices spanning automotive, industrial, medical, military and consumer electronics markets.