Fast-charging EV batteries closer to hitting the market

Electric vehicle charge. (Image by ssarwas0, Pixabay).

Two recent developments in the world of EV batteries are considered major steps towards electrification, as they deal with the main obstacles blocking a more mainstream adoption of the technology: range anxiety and charging speed.

In a study published in Nature Energy, researchers at Pennsylvania State University present a lithium-iron-phosphate battery they have developed, which has a range of 250 miles, the ability to charge in 10 minutes, and a lifetime of 2 million miles.

ECPower cell. (Image courtesy of EC Power).

The battery also produces 40-kilowatt hours and 300 kilowatts of power, which means that an electric vehicle ‘armed’ with it could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in three seconds

“We developed a pretty clever battery for mass-market electric vehicles with cost parity with combustion engine vehicles,” Chao-Yang Wang, senior author of the study, said in a media statement. “There is no more range anxiety and this battery is affordable.”

According to Chao-Yang Wang, who is also a professor a Penn State and founder of ECPower – the company building the prototype – the key to long-life and rapid recharging is the battery’s ability to quickly heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, for charge and discharge, and then cool down when the battery is not working.

This charging capability allowed the researchers to downsize the battery without incurring range anxiety.

The system 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. Once electrons flow, it rapidly heats up the nickel foil through resistance heating and warms the inside of the battery. When the battery’s internal temperature reaches 140 degrees F, the switch opens and the battery is ready for rapid charge or discharge.

The cathode in the battery is thermally stable, lithium-iron-phosphate, which does not contain expensive metals like cobalt. The anode is made of very large particle graphite, a safe, light, and affordable material.

Fifty-eight-hundred miles East…

Similar to the quest at Penn State, developers at Israel’s StoreDot are working on the first-generation of five-minute-charge batteries for electric vehicles.  

The company recently released the first production batch of sample cells, which are being showcased to potential EV and industry partners. 

“This first-generation battery was used to demonstrate the full charge of a two-wheeled EV in just five minutes for the first time and can offer ultra-fast charging to a number of other industries, such as commercial drones and consumer electronics,” the firm said in a media statement, alluding to a scooter that was used to demonstrate the technology in 2019.

Five-minute charge battery engineering samples. (Image courtesy of StoreDot).

The new engineering samples, StoreDot said, are being presented to EV producers and battery manufacturers to show them that it is possible to replace graphite in the cell’s anode using metalloid nano-particles. 

According to the firm, these germanium-based nano-particles are a key breakthrough in overcoming major issues in safety, battery cycle life, and swelling.

“Crucially, unlike competing technologies which require significant capital expenditure in bespoke manufacturing equipment, StoreDot XFC (extreme fast charging) batteries are designed to be produced on existing Li-ion production lines at EVE Energy,” the release states, referring to StoreDot’s Chinese partner and cell manufacturer EVE Energy.

The Israeli company also said that this recent launch paves the way for releasing its second-generation, silicon-dominant anode prototype battery for electric vehicles, which is expected later this year.