We often hear about ‘range anxiety’ when talking about electric vehicles, of course it refers to the angst you feel when travelling anything further than your regular journey, or pushing the limits of the range; will you make it to your destination?
Charging stations are becoming commonplace, although still not quite as readily available or accessible as traditional garage forecourts, and of course, by their very nature could be occupied for some time, but researchers at Penn State University in the U.S. may have the answer.
80% charge in half an hour
Manufacturers of electric vehicles are constantly developing methods to increase charge rates, or lessen charge time, to make the whole process of driving a BEV (Battery Electric Vehicle) as convenient as possible – it really wasn’t that along ago that running out of charge meant a ten-hour (at least) wait, while the electricity trickled through the cells at a snail’s pace.
Most mainstream manufacturers now offer something like an 80% charge in thirty minutes, but even that figure still lags way behind the traditional internal combustion refuel where the longest wait could be in the queue to pay for it.
This is just one of the reasons that people quote as to why they’d never own a BEV, or why an all-electric vehicle will never have the same dominance as ICE. But what if you could completely recharge in ten minutes?
New process, same tech
Recharging batteries (be that a regular lead-acid, phone, camera … pretty much any battery) faster than recommended has always been able to be done, but invariably it damages the battery and shortens the lifespan; be that the life of the battery itself, or the charge it holds.
And when you hear that replacement batteries can cost thousands of pounds (a Nissan Leaf battery pack for example will cost £4920), it’s the wise choice to do all you can to prevent damaging the batteries, and maximise their life.
Lithium-ion batteries are no different – rapid charging will lead to degradation; at lower temperatures, the ions end up as spikes on the anode electrode rather than having a smooth finish, in a process called ‘lithium plating’. This leads to reduced capacity and potentially premature failure. The way to avoid lithium plating is to charge at higher temperatures.
However, heating the battery is not without problems either; while it avoids the plating issue, it can deteriorate the battery in other ways, so the key is to find the sweet spot.
The Penn State team have found that by heating the batteries to 60C, and then rapidly cooling them to ambient temperatures, lithium plating is avoided, as is heat damage – the best of both worlds.
To make this technology work, the team have developed a new battery which incorporates a thin nickel foil, which when activated, creates an electrical circuit that heats the internal structure of the battery in less than 30 seconds, the cooling effect comes from the vehicle’s own cooling system.
Professor Chao-Yang Wang at Penn State said: “We demonstrated that we can charge an electrical vehicle in 10 minutes for a 200 to 300-mile range, and we can do this maintaining 2,500 charging cycles, or the equivalent of half a million miles of travel. The 10-minute trend is for the future and is essential for adoption of electric vehicles because it solves the range anxiety problem.”
Essentially, this could be great news for buyers that have, up until now, been putting off a purchase of a BEV due to worries over charging, but as with all things technology related, this will mean a further increase in purchase price until the tech is readily and widely adopted.
It has taken around ten years of constant development for regular electric vehicles to even get close to their ICE counterparts in terms of purchase price, and the majority of that price differential was always accounted for by battery prices, so it’s likely that a return to newer battery technology could once again push those prices upwards.
With that said, the whole BEV market is really still in its infancy, it will take decades of development for the tech to plateau, just the same as the internal combustion engine. No doubt that we’ll see waves of new technology being introduced which will lead to a surge in pricing, before settling back down again – there will be a constant ebb and flow of pricing, right up until the ‘next big thing’.
There was most definitely a time that motorists, journalists, and ‘petrolheads’ laughed at the thought of an electric vehicle becoming mainstream, but that time is almost here, and thanks to technology and processes, these new vehicles will be better than anything that has preceded them.
What do you think … will reduced charge times be enough to turn the tables for you? Should we just embrace BEVs with the same vigour as we do (did?) the petrol engine? Let us know in the comments.
“Electric Car” by Open Grid Scheduler / Grid Engine Photostream is licensed under CC BY 2.0.
The problem with charging a BEV very rapidly is the current required. To charge a 40kWh battery in 10 minutes at 240 volts requires 1000Amps. Even at 800 volts – which I understand some manufacturers to be considering – its 300 Amps. The size of the cable and the connector will be such that many ordinary people, especially older people, will no be able to handle it.
But its the range thats the problem. Not just charging. 120 miles seems pretty standard but when an ICE has 450 miles of fuel its no contest.
I so want an electric car but too expensive and not fitting to my lifestyle at the moment. When would all these super chargers appear?
A plug in hybrid that can be recharged overnight is probably fine for the many drivers that do under 30 miles a day.
You’re out of date. New BEVs are typically 250 to 300 miles and growing.
Problem here is the cost of infrastructure and supply to battery vehicles is being burdened onto the taxpayers and household electricity bills ( which have risen exponentially ) in very recent years !! Add the the fact electricity has a very expensive process nuclear, coal , gas, solar and wind . Add construction and maintenance . Then manufacturing and eventually recycling batteries ( if possible ) battery vehicles are far from environment friendly yet they pay no fuel duty or road licence !!
At least with electric vehicles we won’t all die from the byproduct exhaust emissions.
no, just radiation poisoning from Nuclear power plants instead, or have to ruin the landscape with all the wind/solar farsm (which get switched OFF if it gets ‘too windy’ for the wind farms!!) or by continuing with coal or gas etc to fuel the power stations.
I’ve heard all this range rubbish before. 200 to 300 mile range, just get on the dual carriage way or motorway and put your foot down. Soon get down to 30 or 40 miles range. Just watch too gear with the electric Nissan gti. Absolute joke.
Total ill informed rubbish. I do motorway journeys all the time at 70. I still easily get 270 miles in my Kona.
Yes, specifically the range of the electric nissan GTi driven at high speeds is an absolute joke. However, 200 miles+ driven in a non boy racer way in a non boy racer electric car, like a Hyundai Kona electric, Kia e-niro (almost the same car) or the new nissan leaf e+ is not a joke.
200 miles is fine until you have to cover 600 miles in a day which, whilst not daily, is a fairly regular occurence for myself and others.
Something has to be done to bring electric vehicles more like ICE cars. The British government has already lowered its target that it wants all new cars to be electric by 2035. But not enough investment is being done in electric vehicles or the infrastructure needed to run them.
But just look at how mobile phones have progressed from being bricks that you can barely make a call to small computers that fit into a watch. Even computers when they were first invented you needed a building to house them and they had less processing power than a calculator. But things changed with invention of the micro chip.
Electric cars were almost unheard of until a few years ago when they started to be become more popular. But until the price comes down and the batteries gets better the electric cars will never take the place of ICE cars.
But fossil fuels won’t last forever and people are more aware of the environmental impact that ICE cars cause.
agreed. a new Ford Mondeo, for example has a list price of around £22,000 (and can be haggled down to a lot less, so probably well under £20k) and the equivalent sized Tesla model S (which has a claimed range of HALF what i get from my diesel Mondeo per ‘tank’ of ‘fuel’, so without recharging etc) has a list price of over £60k! thats TRIPLE the price. and the remaining £40k buys a LOT of fuel and services etc, and DOESNT have to be paid for/financed UP FRONT. you can get it as needed!
and electric isnt cheap in the UK either, so its not like the cars cost nothing to run either.
Electric cars are all well & good, & I see them as a neat little alternative for short local trips, going into town shopping, picking kids up etc.
The sticking point for me is that being generous let’s say a 300 mile range can be achieved, those figures will be optimal.
Now an issue which I have never seen approached is that the range of an EV will be drastically reduced as soon as you start to use ancillary equipment such as lights, wipers, radio, phone chargers etc. But the really big question is, “what about the heater ?”. How on earth can we keep warm in an EV without a huge deficit upon the battery ? And then there are those who will want AC in summer which uses a considerable amount of power. Even just a cool air blower would use a fair bit too.
I know regenerative braking will help, but frankly i cannot see this happening beyond hybrid, as we are going to need some kind of ICE offset the latter defecits or put up with perhaps a 20 mile range at night in the middle of winter so who is going to want to risk it ?
Enough said i think, except that come 2035 the government will be back pedaling, just like what is going on now over Brexit.
Again total rubbish. My EV still achieved 250 mile range in the worst of last winter with the heater at a comfortable level. That’s a drop off about 10% of summer range (When I’m using the aircon!)
I get so tired of all these negative I’ll-informed comments.
What’s yours? A £35,000 + Kona? Lucky you.
Maybe the comments here are from disgruntled VW owners eh? So not rubbish or ill-informed.
Car Official range Our range
Volkswagen e-Golf 144 miles 120 miles
Nissan Leaf 168 miles 138 miles
Hyundai Kona Electric 279 miles 250 miles
and for comparison on range, i can get 700 miles from a Tank of Diesel in my Ford Mondeo. ideal when i have a day where i need to cover 600 miles (which is often enough to warrant the ICE car, until either recharge speeds or range improve)
or would that be classed as ill-informed as well, Philip?
The only way to replace the ICE vehicle performance and range is to develop the hydrogen fuel cell technology and infrastructure, the electric vehicle will never compete with ICE particularly in winter and with range.
Illinformed. The Kona electric has a range of well over 250 miles, not too far off a petrol car.
The infrastructure of public electric chargers, though far from ideal, is way beyond that of hydrogen.
Electric powered vehicles will not solve the congestion problems but reducing the number of vehicles on the road would but think of all the money the government would lose if they did that so it’s more and more vehicles on our congested roads whatever they’re powered with
Loving all the comments. Not to mention all the research people have put in, rather than just spouting pish!! 🤣🤣
1)Firstly, we need an alternative transport system before taking such a drastic discriminatory action against diesel car owners. What happened to the trams?
2)Secondly the most polluters in the city are buses, taxis and commercial vehicles. I see them running or idling their engines whilst waiting to pick up customers . Taxis should be charged congestion charges to enter the inner zone. There are far too many taxis already and there must strict control on numbers and regulations.
3)Throttling the diesel owners from entering the city will only transfer the problem to other suburban areas like Clifton, Redland, Bedminster etc. where there will be congestion and lead to road rage. No! No! No!
4)How are other cities responding to this matter?
Whilst we are all agreed to control pollution, we must also involve other EU and Asian countries to follow suit. They are all playing their part in chocking the planet. A small island cannot stop this universal problem.
So let’s all do our bit and solve what is a world problem.
Is anyone working on a “swap -out / swap-in approach”? If batteries could be standardised and mounted on the vehicle in such a way that they could be easily replaced, then rapid charging would be unnecessary.
Why hasn’t solar panels like on house’s been considered surely this would charge the batteries
Cloud cuckoo land.
It will happen but not until electricity can be reliably produced in greater volumes. We struggle to meet present electricity demands without replacing vehicle liquid fuel with electricity.
Electricity is too expensive now. Then I suppose the government add a new tax for vehicle charging. Electric vehicles will not reduce motoring costs.
Where will all the dead batteries go? Battery mountains?
What will be the cost to the environment producing batteries and more electricity than we do now.
I am disappointed it will not happen in my lifetime.
To supply 240,000 watts which is what is required in 10 mins to charge a 40Kw battery strikes me as being pretty scary when you consider an electric kettle consumes about 3000 watts per boil!!
I understand the heating and then cooling of a li-ion battery may very well exploit a faster charge, I’m having some difficulty imagining the infrastructure to do this.
I seriously want to buy a BEV next time, I guess I have some concerns about the safety cage that is employed around the battery, you must not bend lithium ion cells, they spontaneously ignite so this is why the battery in a BEV is so hugely protected. It also carries significant electronics to manage the housekeeping of the cells. We are at the cusp, however there is some ways to go yet.
I’m going with hydrogen fuel less damaging to the environment as America and China will be strip mining along with other countries that have the raw materials. And according to scientists hydrogen is the most abundent source of power in the universe this really is a no brainer.
Sorry I meant to say that the strip mining is involved in finding all the raw materials for the batteries
The grid supply will still be a limiting factor. It’s all very well saying that we can charge rapidly, but not if the electricity isn’t there.
I am about to put two EV charging points in at my office. I can have 2 off 7kW chargers and according to UK Power Networks, if I’m lucky I might get 2 off 11kW as I’m early to the party and the substation is just across the road. The talk at the moment is about anything up to 100kW chargers. How can we expect to support that?
Why is all the discussion centred on how the EV will save so much of the environment? These vehicles still have to be constructed and the basic materials are all manufactured in plants using fossil fuels of one kind or another and of course much of that material has to be shipped around the world in vessels powered by engines burning fossil fuels. The batteries in use at the moment are extremely expensive and so far there is no means of recycling them, and certainly not on the scale that would be required were we all to switch to using BEVs. It won’t be long either before the government decided that losing the Road Fund Licence fees on electric vehicles has robbed them of a regular source of income and all the free or low RFL will become a thing of the past.
There was a time when much of our public transport system in towns and cities was electrically powered, the old trams and trolleybuses but they were scrapped because they were limited in the areas they could cover. Now we have trams coming back to major cities but how much use are these really. Take Nottingham as an example – two routes that cross the city and that;s it. If you don’t live near these routes or your destination isn’t near one the tram system is useless to you. The old tram systems had much wider coverage and travelled down the centre of roads alongside other traffic. The new systems in many cases have routes that are closed to other vehicles partly because, I believe, that the newer generation of planners are not making roads wide enough for these systems to be incorporated.
Before spending billions on rushing development and governments dreaming up ill thought schemes to force new technology and or charges on us these so called experts need to sit down and come up with a joined up plan that will benefit all.
Having said that it has just come to my mind of an old service definition of an expert – ‘EX’ is something that has been and a Spurt (pert) is a drip under pressure!! Enough said.