Penn State University Researchers Test 10-Minute EV Charges

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【Summary】If researchers at Penn State University find a way to get their invention on the market, electric-vehicle owners can say goodbye to long charge times.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Nov 08, 2019 6:00 AM PT
Penn State University Researchers Test 10-Minute EV Charges

Long charge times are one of the many downsides to owning an electric vehicle at the moment. There's also limited range, a lack of charging stations, and high prices to worry about. But lengthy charge times are pretty annoying. A lot of automakers are working around long charge times by incorporating quick charge systems into vehicles, which do solve the problem, but they require fast-charging systems, which are hard to come by and expensive to install into a personal home. Researchers at Penn State University may have come up with a solution.

Researchers Find A Way For Rapid EV Charging
In a report published in Joule, researchers at the university have come up with a way for lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles to be recharged in just 10 minutes. For the record, the Jaguar I-Pace has one of the more impressive recharge times for an electric car. Using a DC fast-charger, the I-Pace can get 80 percent of its charge back in roughly 40 (100 kW) to 85 (50 kW) minutes. So 10 minutes is astounding.
According to the researchers, it's all about temperature. They claim that when lithium-ion batteries are being rapidly recharged at ambient temperatures of under 50 degrees, which is the case for roughly half of the year for a lot of owners in the United States, they degrade quickly. What the team found, was that when they heat up the batteries to 140 degrees for 10 minutes and then rapidly cool them, they could get a charge that gave back 200 to 300 miles of range. This method can be used for 2,500 charges, which comes out to half a million miles of travel.

Why Rapid Heating Is Dangerous
Raising the batteries' temperature to 140 degrees, though, leads to battery degradation. "Taking this battery to the extreme of 60 degrees Celsius (140 degrees F) is forbidden in the battery arena," said Chao-Yang Wang, director of the Electrochemical Engine Center at Penn State. "It is too high and considered a danger to the materials and would shorten battery life drastically."
The way the researchers raised the batteries' temperature is by using a thin nickel foil with a temperature sensor. The sensor was attached to a switch that caused electrons to flow through the foil, rapidly heating the material and warming the battery. Rapidly cooling the batteries back to a normal temperature relies on the vehicle's cooling system.
If automakers and battery companies found a way to integrate this kind of tech into their electric vehicles, it would make range anxiety a thing of the past. Unfortunately, implementing the tech in cars and charging stations would require large upgrades. There are other concerns, including ones that center on the environment, safety, and longevity. Still, this is the kind of technology that might just make electric vehicles more usable.

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