This could change the way we think about electric vehicles forever.
Electric vehicles like the Hyundai Ioniq 5 are enjoying great popularity as consumers slowly switch over to battery power. But, as with anything, there are drawbacks. Not everyone can charge their vehicle at home and some have to rely on fast chargers along their commute. When plugged into a 350 kW charger, Hyundai claims its handsome EV can charge from 10% - 80% in a mere 18 minutes. That's impressive.
But when you compare that to the time it takes to fill a regular car with gas, 18 minutes is an eternity. Many people simply don't have the time for this, and these prolonged charging times won't appeal to those driving long distances. But what if the charging process can be made quicker? Scientists at the American Chemical Society (ACS) claim they've devised a way to top EV batteries up in less than ten minutes without damaging the battery.
Dr. Eric Dufek of the Idaho National Laboratory explains that slow charging times are a "key [hurdle] to the adoption of electric vehicles." Dufek and his associates looked into speeding up the charging process so that people can go on long road trips and "to help individuals who can't charge at home."
Several obstacles stood in the way of Dufek and his desired solution. He notes one of the biggest limitations is how fast the lithium ions can be moved "back and forth across the battery." The scientists developed "different charging protocols" and advanced electrolytes that allow the lithium ions to move faster and minimize battery damage commonly associated with fast charging.
Dufek notes this would make living with an EV so much easier. "Even if you're doing a fast charge, you're looking at maybe 25-30 minutes. If we could advance with extreme fast-charging and be able to charge batteries in 10 minutes or less, it completely changes the dynamic of long road trips."
Simple as it may sound, this isn't a "one size fits all" solution. Dr. Dufek notes that, while small, the differences in EV batteries need to be considered: "Lots of the batteries in automotive vehicles are very similar, but there are slight nuances from battery to battery."
One needs to consider various factors when looking at the battery pack itself. "It's not just how the battery is designed, but also however what you're doing with that battery that cascades to the electric vehicle infrastructure as well."
The results from this experiment sound rather promising. The team - and other laboratories - were able to achieve over 90% charge acceptance without plating lithium metal which, notes Dufek, "is one of the key failure mechanisms."
"We were able to actually extend that all the way out through at least 600 cycles." There are still cells undergoing testing, and they are still maintaining over 80% charge acceptance.
This ultra-fast charging is still some time away, however. Dr. Dufek notes the research is ongoing, and the next steps involve looking into how to advance fast-charging capabilities. "[We're looking into increasing] the energy of the cells and ... overall continued optimization so that we can keep moving this path forward."
Dufek notes the reason behind the research is to encourage mass adoption of electric vehicles to consumers "without impacting the standards of living that we're used to." If this becomes a reality, we expect EVs to become more popular than they already are. Americans are currently faced with incredibly high gas prices, which has led many to consider battery-powered vehicles.
It's also worth considering that fast charging has previously been at fault for vehicle damage - something OEMs have been forced to bear the cost of instead of the charge supplier. This innovation sounds great, but there are still difficulties to overcome in making it widely available.