The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) recently did some things to advance EV charging tech that are way over my head to make a battery that could theoretically charge an electric car in only one minute.
That might seem silly to people with a decent EV, but I recently found something that could eventually make EV charging so fast that even the owner of a Porsche Taycan might be shocked and amazed— and, as the owner of a Nissan LEAF, I’m lucky to get a 50 kW charge rate, but that’s only on the first charge. If I try to go anywhere on the highway, I quickly find that the second and third charges are a lot slower. If I keep going, I can expect to get charging rates as low as 14 kW on the second or third session, which is more like DC slow charging than DC fast charging. When I get a chance to test and review better EVs, it seems like witchcraft when getting charging over 100 kW, and faster 250 and 350 kW charging sessions look like alien technology.
“The hybrid lithium-ion battery, which has a high energy density (285 Wh/kg) and can be rapidly charged with a high-power density (22,600 W/kg), is overcoming the limitations of the current energy storage system,” Professor Jung-Goo Kang of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering said. “It will be a breakthrough.”
22.6 kW might not sound good at all for most EV owners these days, but consider that they’re talking about the speed per kilogram of battery. For other idiot Americans like me, that’s 22 kilowatts for every couple of pounds of battery weight. So, a battery weighing 1,000 pounds could achieve a battery charging rate of 22 megawatts. That would charge a vehicle 220 times faster than current charge sessions if there’s a way to deliver that much power to the vehicle somehow. So yes, you’d definitely be done with EV charging in under a minute. (!)
How did the team do this? Well, like I said it’s over my head, but I’ll try to make some sense of what I’ve read:
“The research team synthesized a porous carbon hollow structure with a large surface area by changing the orientation of the polymer resin from linear to twisted. When the twisted resin was carbonized, more micropores were formed, and a carbon structure with a surface area 12 times larger than that of the conventional linear resin was created. The carbon structure created through this process was used as a capacitor-type cathode material. In addition, the anode was made using a germanium-embedded hollow carbon nanosphere material to reduce degradation and maximize the dispersion of lithium ions. The researchers found that the hybrid lithium-ion battery using those special electrodes had an energy density comparable to that of conventional lithium-ion batteries and the power density characteristics of a capacitor, affording recharge within a minute.”
I know some readers will know exactly what all this means, but from what liberal arts majors like me who dabble in this stuff can gather, it appears that they combined an improved version of normal lithium battery cells with other materials and structures that act more like a capacitor. Capacitors have been able to take a lot of energy in a short period of time for decades, so that’s not super surprising, but they can’t hold onto a charge the way a normal battery can.
But, by combining both kinds of materials in a battery, they managed to come up with something that can deliver battery-like energy storage while giving a capacitor-like charging experience. So, it’s not witchcraft or the work of some intergalactic civilization. It’s just science and technology getting better.
Unfortunately, most battery tech like this takes years to get to market, assuming it ever actually gets there. It’s one thing to invent something cool, but it’s another matter entirely to mass-produce it at an affordable price. Plus, there’s the problem of delivering megawatts of power to a car to charge. So, don’t get your hopes up too much at this point!
Featured image by KAIST.
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