Source: Penn State University
Source: Penn State University

A new battery design from Pennsylvania’s Penn State University could provide 480km of driving range to an electric car battery with just a 10 minute charge, according to new research published on Wednesday.

People are often discouraged from making the switch to electric vehicles because of fears about the rate of charge compared with the time it takes to fill up a petrol or diesel tank.

The research could mean the time needed to recharge an electric car becomes on par with that of a petrol or diesel car – enough time to visit the amenities and grab a coffee, for instance.

Electric vehicle DC chargers typically offer 50-350kW rates of charging, with the fastest rate adding up to 400km in 15 minutes – but to date, the only commercially available vehicle that can do this is the Porsche Taycan.

The 400kW rate needed to enable a “ten-minute battery” has up until now been a pipe dream, because EV battery makers limit the rate at which batteries can be charged in order to avoid lithium deposits forming on the negative electrode inside the battery and ensure the safety and life of batteries.

While the lithium plating caused by the rapid rate of charging can reduce cell capacity, it can also create potentially dangerous electrical spikes.

This effect can be avoided when a battery reaches a certain temperature, but keeping a battery heated for long periods also degrades it, shortening its useful lifespan.

The new method developed by researchers at Penn State resarchers, including Chao-Yang Wang, professor of chemical engineering, materials science and engineering, has demonstrated that by heating the battery’s electrodes  above 60°C and then rapidly cooling it, about 480km range could be added and this could be done 2,500 times.

“We demonstrated that we can charge an electrical vehicle in ten minutes for a 200 to 300 mile range,” said Wang in a statement on the Penn State website. “And we can do this maintaining 2,500 charging cycles, or the equivalent of half a million miles of travel.”

This is done by using a thin nickel foil attached to the negative terminal extended to the outside of the cell to create a third terminal.

Using a temperature sensor attached to a switch, electrons flow through the nickel foil completing the circuit and heating the negative electrodes.

Once the electrodes are hot enough, the chemical reaction needed to store energy in the battery can take place without the lithium plates forming.

For the method to become commercially viable, Wang says that an electric vehicle’s own cooling system could be used.

If developed into a commercially viable product, the “ten-minute battery” has – along with distribution of, what do we call it, ultra ultra fast-charging infrastructure? – the potential to solve the issue of range anxiety.

People could drive the 300-400km allowed by most currently available EVs only needing to stop for 10 minutes to recharge.

“The 10-minute trend is for the future and is essential for adoption of electric vehicles because it solves the range anxiety problem,” says Wang.

 

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