Battery 50 years
Qnovo's fast-charging technology can charge a smartphone battery in a third of the time of traditional chargersAndy Armstrong/CC

A California-based startup has developed software and a chip that are able to charge a phone's battery three times faster by adjusting the flow of power when it is recharging.

Qnovo claims the new technology can offer up to six hours of additional use time from just a
15-minute charge while, at the same time, preserving the life of the battery.

"Fast charging using current approaches destroys the battery's cycle life and the product lifetime is reduced to an unacceptable level," the firm stated in a white paper entitled 'Introduction to Qnovo fast charging'.

"[Qnovo's technology] provides mobile device manufacturers with the ability to fast charge the battery and achieve a long life cycle and utilise the battery to its fullest capacity, simultaneously, without compromising performance."

Current battery charging technologies involve a process called Constant-Current, Constant Voltage (CCCV), a technique developed more than a century ago for lead-acid batteries. With this method, batteries are charged at a constant electrical current until they reach a maximum voltage.

qnovo battery fast charging
CCCV results in significant damage to batteries at increased charging ratesQnovo

Qnovo's software is able to improve upon this technique by monitoring the battery health and adjusting the speed of charging accordingly, a process that it performs hundreds of times every second.

This allows smartphone batteries to be charged in a third of the time that it takes with standard phone chargers.

This method of charging can be achieved either by embedding a chip, called the QN200, or installing software directly to the device.

Nadim Maluf, CEO of Qnovo, believes the fast-charging technology could be commercially available by 2015.

Several smartphone manufacturers are interested in implementing the technology, according to Maluf, either as the whole package or just the software portion.

"If you have the ability of charging your mobile device fast," he said, "the anxiety you have about how long it lasts goes away."