The Future of Fast Charging for Electric Vehicles
By: Nicholas Yiu, Addionics' Senior Battery Scientist
Electrification is taking hold of the automotive market, and most major companies are designing new electric vehicle (EV) models for release in the coming years. With rising consumer demand, we wanted to know, what would it take for the average consumer to buy an EV?
Today, there is a huge gap between what a typical EV buyer wants versus what an EV manufacturer can make. At a recent mobility conference MOVE 2020, we learned that EV users want to charge their EV in a fast and safe method. A participant survey at a round table event showed roughly 95% of people wanted vehicles to be charged in 5 minutes or under, while only 1 person at the round table said they were okay with 45-60 minutes.
Charging time is of primary importance for the EV buyer. But is it possible to charge quickly AND safely with today’s technology?
BP Chargemaster is one of the companies tackling this problem via charging infrastructure. They are the UK’s leading electric vehicle charging company, powering up ultra-fast charging stations, with the ability to do various levels of “fast”.
50kW Fast charging (30 minutes to have lunch)
150kW Ultra-fast charging (12 minutes to get a coffee)
350kW Ultra-fast charging (4.3 minutes to check your email)
For reference, the maximum power output of the Tesla Wall Connector is 22 kW (source)
While this is beneficial to improve EV adoption and help all new cars and vans in the UK to be effectively zero-emission by 2040, this does bring some concerns. Is ultra-fast charging safe for EV batteries, up to 350kW?
The short answer is, no. A few weeks ago, researchers at UC Riverside published a study explaining how commercial fast-charging can lead to battery damage due to extremely high internal resistance from the batteries, and lose their energy storage. It significantly increases higher temperatures, risk of thermal runaway, and hazardous explosions. They performed tests on commercial Panasonic NCR 18650B cylindrical lithium-ion batteries, the same cells found in Tesla vehicles.
The hope is that everyday EV users will only use ultra-fast charging when absolutely necessary (very rarely), and will primarily use regular chargers for most of the time.
At Addionics, we predict that the typical EV buyer might not listen to this advice, and may inadvertently abuse fast-charging stations, permanently damage their batteries and spread hazardous risks to the community.
We understand the limitations of fast-charging. Our porous 3D metal current collector product reduces internal resistance by 50%, which can be used by battery and car manufacturers across all existing and emerging battery materials. There are a variety of different solutions working on charging algorithms, battery materials, battery management systems, but at the very core, it all comes down to the battery chemistry and architecture which is the problem we’re tackling. Addionics current collectors will allow for faster charging with higher energy capacity, and ultimately help the UK transition safely to zero emission by 2040.
EVs still represent a small fraction of total vehicles sold globally, but as EV adoption increases, we’re going to see a lot more technologies involved with smart and safe charging.
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