10-minute EV recharge on horizon after battery breakthrough

30 Oct 2019

Image: © Kevin McGovern/Stock.adobe.com

The goal of being able to recharge an EV in the same time it takes to fuel a fossil fuel car has just gotten a lot closer.

Those on the fence about making the switch from an internal combustion engine (ICE) car to an electric vehicle (EV) often bring up the issue of recharging or so-called ‘range anxiety’.

While it might take a minute or two to fill up an ICE car with petrol or diesel, it could take up to half an hour to gain the same mileage in an EV recharge. However, researchers from Penn State university have demonstrated a lithium-ion battery for EVs that could be charged in just 10 minutes.

Chao-Yang Wang, director of the university’s Electrochemical Engine Center, said that their work will allow for a range of up to 482km on a 10-minute charge for more than 2,500 charging cycles.

When fast charging at ambient temperatures under 10 degrees Celsius, lithium-ion batteries degrade. Rather than lithium ions being inserted into the carbon anodes smoothly, it deposits in spikes on the anode surface. This results in a reduced cell capacity, potential electrical spikes and an unsafe battery.

An ‘essential’ breakthrough

However, batteries heated above this temperature won’t experience this problem, referred to as lithium plating. Previous work undertaken by the researchers showed they could charge their battery in 15 minutes at 10 degrees Celsius.

They eventually realised that if the batteries could heat up to 60 degrees Celsius for 10 minutes and are then rapidly cooled to ambient temperatures, lithium spikes and heat degradation wouldn’t occur. Findings on the discovery have been published to Joule.

“Taking this battery to the extreme of 60 degrees Celsius is forbidden in the battery arena,” said Wang. “It is too high and considered a danger to the materials and would shorten battery life drastically.”

To rapidly cool the battery, they determined that a cooling system designed into the car will be needed.

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

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic