Engineers have developed a battery that provides enough charge in just 10 minutes to drive an electric vehicle from Sydney to Canberra – and beyond.
One disadvantage of EVs to date has been long battery recharging times and the associated ‘range anxiety’, or the fear of running out of electricity before reaching a charging station. Even at ‘supercharger’ stations, cars still require up to 50 minutes to top up their batteries.
But a new battery developed in the US is set to change this.
At Penn State University, engineers have designed an EV battery that can give drivers 200 to 300 miles (approximately 320 to 480 kilometres) of range from just a 10-minute charge.
“Fast charging is the key to enabling widespread introduction of electric vehicles,” said Chao-Yang Wang, Director of the Electrochemical Engine Center at Penn State, who worked on the battery.
“The 10-minute trend is the future and is essential for adoption of electric vehicles because it solves the range anxiety problem.”
Previously, a critical barrier to extreme fast charging technology has been the lithium plating that can occur at high charging rates, which involves lithium depositing in spikes on the anode surface rather than being smoothly inserted into the carbon anodes. This reduces cell capacity, causes electrical spikes and leads to unsafe battery conditions.
The new design works using asymmetric temperature modulation, where the charging device is heated to 60º C for just 10 minutes and then rapidly cooled to ambient temperatures. This allows for faster recharging while avoiding lithium plating, and limiting the exposure time at 60º C to just 10 minutes per cycle avoids degrading the battery.
If 10 minutes wasn’t quick enough, the team is now working on reducing the charge time to just five minutes, making it a serious competitor to petrol refuelling times.
EV sales across the globe might be on the up, but take-up has been somewhat slower in Australia. Of the 2.1 million global EV sales in 2018, only 2216 were sold here. Increased consumer choice might change this over coming years, with 31 models expected to be available in Australia by the end of 2020.
The availability of public charging infrastructure is also increasing. The national network now comprises 1930 EV charging stations, including 17 fast charging stations between Coolangatta and Cairns as part of Queensland’s Electric Super Highway.
Further afield, 2800 charging stations are planned across 500 locations in the US, and Brisbane-based Tritium, an enterprise that designs and manufactures EV fast chargers, is set to supply 100 high-power charging sites across European highways, connecting major transport links across Germany, France, the UK, Norway and Sweden.