The Advanced Clean Transport Expo is a show that exists to show off next-generation, clean technologies for transportation, with the majority of the show focusing on fleet applications. This year, the show centered around technologies regarding liquified natural gas (LNG) and natural gas (NG) in vehicles of all shapes and sizes, which quite honestly make no sense to me, as they still generate significant emissions. Having said that, 2016 marked an obviously emerging EV presence, with BYD anchoring electric avenue.
Many other EV vendors were also in attendance to show off their latest and greatest products, like ABB. ABB is one of those companies that seems to have products all over the place — like GE, 3M, and Siemens — though most people would have a hard time naming one actual product the company makes.
ABB makes stuff that keeps all the gears of the world turning, from grid-scale circuit breakers to electric trains to natural gas flow meters — it is a titan of infrastructure innovation and has been for 125 years now. More is to come on ABB, as we are getting an inside look at some of the work it is doing across industries in Switzerland (see full disclaimer at the bottom of the article).
At ACT this year, ABB brought some of its awesome people to the show to put a spotlight on the latest DC Fast Charger (DCFC) technology it has to offer. These DCFC stations raise the bar and increase charging speeds vs the previous generations. Specifically, the new ABB DCFC unit — the ABB Terra 53 CJ multi-standard DCFC station — can charge a 24 kWh Nissan Leaf EV from 30% to 80% in 15 minutes.
The obvious restating of metrics (from the common 0–80% numbers) results in lower charging times, which obviously put the product in better light. To keep the metrics on the up and up, and for full transparency, we confirmed with ABB that the 0% to 80% charging time is 25 mins for a Nissan LEAF–sized battery (as compared to a typical 0–80% time of 30 minutes), so it is a slight improvement.
More importantly, as we fast forward to ~200 mile EVs, the ABB “53CJ” can charge the soon-to-be-released Chevy Bolt’s 60 kWh battery from 30% up to 80% in just 35 minutes, which certainly sounds a lot better than the “60 minutes to 80%” quotes we’ve seen for normal DCFC units for the Bolt.
Similar to the LEAF, the 0–80% charge time is quite a bit higher and still comes in at 60 minutes. Though, the reality is that the new 30–80% time is an improvement to the real-life charge times for most EV drivers. The typical EV won’t roll into a charger at 0% (though, I had been down to ~4 miles of range — or ~2.5% — in our Leaf), so the improvement in 30% to 80% charging speeds is meaningful.
This would presumably be similar on the Tesla Model 3 using the CHAdeMO adapter on this same ABB technology. Though, the Model 3 is expected to have a battery that’s slightly smaller than 60 kWh, so would charge a bit faster on a “range per hour” basis.
As EVs continue to increase in range, fast charging is very quickly going to present a barrier unless DCFCs continue to increase in speed in parallel to long-range EV deployment. Without more high-throughput DCFCs, even the Chevy Bolt is relegated to being just a longer-range-around-town vehicle with a max one-way range of ~90 miles. Yes, the total range is expected to be over 200 miles, but nobody wants to be out on the town with less than 10% charge left….
Cutting the charging time for the DC fast charging units for all the non-Tesla drivers allows mainstream manufacturers the opportunity to compete with Tesla when it comes to a publicly available, widespread network of fast chargers. I’m personally pushing hard for a true Level 4 charging network (150+ kW) to support the masses of mainstream drivers who will expect gas-station-style fill-up times to recharge their EVs, which ultimately requires a step change in speeds compared to what’s available today.
Today, Tesla is the only EV manufacturer with a fully meshed charging network that allows drivers to cross the country with ease. Yes, it is possible to get across the country in just about any ~100 mile EV, but it takes quite a bit of planning and effort, whereas, with a Tesla, it’s effortless.
ABB has taken the next step in the journey with the 53CJ, and in addition to the increase in fast-charging speeds, these new chargers are CCS and CHAdeMO compliant which is the de facto standard now for fast chargers. For those concerned about durability in extreme temperatures, these units can also crank power into EVs for hours on end — at high temperatures — with no issues.
Jumping into the tech specs for the units, these systems accept 480 volts at 75 amps or 60 kVa input and convert the power with an overall efficiency of 94%. On the output side, the DC power heads out at up to 50 kW. Check out the full spec sheet HERE for all the juicy details.
Disclaimer: While ABB did not sponsor CleanTechnica at ACT in Long Beach or this article, I am currently in Switzerland on a trip funded by ABB to showcase a broad sampling of its technologies across the country. In other words, this article is really not tied to that trip at all, and was planned beforehand, but we wanted to be exceedingly clear here.
All Images courtesy ABB
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