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Penn State Researchers Say A 10-Minute EV Recharge Is Possible With New Battery Technology

Researchers at Penn State say they have devised a way to recharge the batteries of electric cars in 10 minutes. Now they want to go further and get that down to just 5 minutes.

Humans are bound and determined to destroy their planetary home in the name of convenience. Of all the complaints about electric cars — they cost too much, they don’t have enough range, they aren’t big enough to transport an entire college basketball team — the one you hear most often is that you can’t recharge one in the same time it takes to fill the tank of a conventional car with gasoline.

Of course people who say that are completely clueless when it comes to realizing that the vast majority of electric cars are recharged overnight at home most of the time. It’s as if a truck crept down your driveway every night and filled your gas tank, leaving it full for the start of the next day. From that perspective, most drivers of conventional cars would never need to visit a gas station again for the rest of their lives except on rare occasions, like driving over the river and through the woods to Grandmother’s house or towing the ski boat to the lake once a year.

Still, long charging times are perceived as a major roadblock to owning an electric car. That factor alone is 98% of the reason why some people think cars that run on hydrogen are a better solution for slashing emissions from transportation than electric cars, believing refueling from a hydrogen pump will take no longer than topping up the tank at a gas pump. That assumes the hydrogen refueling equipment is available and functioning properly. In actual practice, one or the other is usually not the case.

Researchers at Penn State claim they have found a way to recharge an EV in 10 minutes and are targeting 5-minute recharging times in the near future.”We demonstrated that we can charge an electrical vehicle in ten minutes for a 200 to 300 mile range,” says Chao-Yang Wang. “And we can do this maintaining 2,500 charging cycles, or the equivalent of half a million miles of travel.” Wang is chairman of the mechanical engineering department as well as a professor of chemical engineering and materials science. He is also director of the Electrochemical Engine Center at Penn State.

The problem, Wang found in his research, is that lithium-ion batteries degrade when charged rapidly at ambient temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit because the lithium deposits in spikes on the anode surface. Such lithium plating reduces cell capacity and can cause electrical spikes and unsafe battery conditions. The trick? Heat up cold batteries to a level higher than the lithium plating threshold.

Wang and his team realized that if they heat batteries to 140 degrees F | 60° C for only 10 minutes and then rapidly cool them back down to ambient temperature, lithium spikes will not form and heat degradation of the battery will not occur. Their results of the research can be found in the October 30, 2019 issue of the scientific journal Joule. “The 10 minute trend is for the future and is essential for adoption of electric vehicles because it solves the range anxiety problem,” says Wang.

The trick is to heat the battery rapidly and then cool it back down quickly. (Tesla and some other companies already pre-condition batteries for charging by heating them but do not get them as hot as the Penn State team did.) The researchers say their self-heating battery uses a thin nickel foil with one end attached to the negative terminal and the other extending outside the cell to create a third terminal. A temperature sensor attached to a switch causes electrons to flow through the nickel foil to complete the circuit. This rapidly heats up the nickel foil through resistance heating and warms the inside of the battery according to a Penn State blog post. They say the car’s own battery cooling system would take care of the cooling phase (which leaves Nissan out of the picture).

Also working on this project, which was funded in part by the US Department of  Energy, were Xiao-Guang Yang, assistant research professor; Teng Liu, graduate student; Yue Gao, post-doctoral scholar; Shanhai Ge, assistant researcher professor; Yongjun Leng, assistant research professor; and Donghai Wang, professor, all in the Department of Mechanical Engineering. Notice how many of them would probably never be allowed into the country today given the insane demonization of immigrants by the current maladministration. Those policies virtually insure America will fall behind the rest of the world in technology in coming years, thanks to Dumb Donald.

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Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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