• May 7th 2010 at 2:52PM
  • 36
What if you could charge an electric vehicle (EV) in about the same amount of time that its take to fuel up a gasoline car? Would EVs reach mainstream status if charging them was a simple, three minute procedure? Well, we may find out soon. The Nikkei newspaper is reporting that Japen-based JFE Engineering Corp. has developed an entirely new charging system that can take an electric vehicle from empty to halfway charged in just three minutes. Get your stopwatches ready.
Sound impossible? It might be if the charger worked like any other on the market. It doesn't. The JFE system uses lithium-ion batteries to store energy during off-peak hours, then directs all of this energy in a three minute burst into the EV. By utilizing batteries for energy storage, the charger does not rely on super high amperage nor does it require rewiring of existing facilities to function correctly. Running on a standard current, JFE states that its system could save a gas station an average of $9,500 per year (U.S.) in electricity costs over a traditional fast-charging setup, but failed to mention how much more it could add in upfront costs.

Almost everything has a downside and the JFE charger is no exception. To get the full benefit of this new system, EVs will have to be reprogrammed and additional battery safeguards may be needed. Yeah, that's quite a drawback, but the system will work at 'normal' speeds (recharging an EV to 80 percent capacity in about 15 minutes) without these changes. JFE is discussing the adaptations with automakers and hopes that the idea of a three-minute half-charge will convince them to make the necessary changes.

[Source: Green Car Advisor]


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  • 36 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      The problem is that the charger will have to rest for a while to recharge its own batteries.. stupid.

      BTW, A123 LiFe cells, in production since 2005 and used in DeWalt cordless tools can be recharged to 100% in less than 15 minutes.. routinely and they last 1000s of cycles.
        • 5 Years Ago
        You're assuming there's no redundancy in the system.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Everybody keeps talking about fast charging as though the problem is in the power supply. Delivering lots of power isn't trivial, but it's really not that hard. The hard part is in making sure the batteries don't explode when you drive thousands of amps through them. There is only one chemistry I know of (others may know more) that even has a hope of handling that much current before internal resistance builds up heat and things get exciting.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I think that is true, too, but I think that the storage batteries would probably have to have much larger capacity that the charge they are giving up. Since it is a chemical process to store electricity that is why the first 50 percent charge is quick. The rest of the charge would be slower. It works the same way on the storage battery giving up energy too. Likely they would have to have double the capacity that they need to discharge quickly.

        Plus the $9500 energy savings is meaningless when you do not give a period. Is that per day/per month/per year?
        • 5 Years Ago
        Exactly. The Leaf's batteries are air-cooled. And even then, there's little airflow to cool the batteries when charging because the car isn't moving.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Like GoodCheer said, delievering current isnt the problem. Heat management is. Which this doesn't solve.
      • 5 Years Ago
      aa ha ha ha...

      "but failed to mention how much more it could add in upfront costs."

      $100k-$500k in batteries? why not just fill up your car at night or very early morning & charge less $$$ for the charge?

      "EVs will have to be reprogrammed and additional battery safeguards may be needed"

      That's an understatement.
        • 5 Years Ago
        The 3 minute measurement is how fast this charger can supply energy, but the bottleneck will be on the batteries in the EV likely making it longer than 3 minutes for the near future... With different EVs with different batteries, their power density (how fast they can charge/discharge) will be all over the place, and unless the EV uses the same batteries as this charger or eestor actually mass-produces a product, they will be probably have lower power density than chargers like this for a while. This also makes me wonder why the charger uses lithium batteries instead of super/ultra-capacitors since it's stationary (no weight constraint, little volume constraint, lots of power density, can hold charge long enough for off-peak charge and on-peak disbursement).
        • 5 Years Ago
        Wonder how much it costs to buy and bury a gasoline storage tank, and to buy and install a gasoline pump. Pumps get renewed all the time and no one bats an eye at the cost.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Sure, but i can guarantee you that a storage tank full of temperature-managed batteries VS. a storage tank full of nothing is going to cost multiples of multiples more.

        It's like the difference between buying a pool and buying a pool full of precious metals :p
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah of course its not cheap. Its a commercial product, not something people are going to put in their garages. People will pay a premium for quick 3-minute charges - and businesses looking to attract those type of clients will go for something like this just to get the foot traffic. Considering EVs are still in their infancy stages, this kind of setup has a pretty good chance of being incorporated into later models. It definitely opens up a market for used battery packs, and I'm sure battery manufacturers would like to break into it too.
      • 5 Years Ago
      DeWalt no longer uses A123, Everyone else is cheaper now and can do the same specs as a123. Only thing a123 hopes to save its a$s are pouch based and not cylinder.

      a123 should never have moved any production to china.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yeah, I noticed DeWalt does not mention A123 anymore, but they call their cells the same nanophosphate.. so I guess the cells got duplicated.. so did they lose the contract?.. if you open up a 36v pack from DeWalt it does not say A123 on the cells anymore?
      • 5 Years Ago
      This illustrates that lithium can take really fast charging up to a certain state of charge without much trouble. This claim is mostly gimmick though considering that most people won't have the choice of waiting to get to 0 (anxiety, plus the 10-20% hard-coded buffer to prevent damage), and charging anything beyond 50% State of Charge will require ramping down the amps on an exponential curve.

      That said, DC-DC dump-charging is pretty efficient. And while people talk about how costly lithium is per kWh, on a cycle-life basis lithium is cheaper than lead per kWh stored. The only thing lithium has against it is high upfront cost, which isn't an issue in this application.

      That's not to say that there aren't better batteries for this application, where weight and size aren't an issue. Flow batteries perhaps?
        • 5 Years Ago
        How about using a SOFC or MCFC to produce the electricity?
        • 5 Years Ago
        letstakeawalk said, "How about using a SOFC or MCFC to produce the electricity?"

        Trollin, trollin, trollin, keep those FCV's rollin, keep those doggys goin, raawhiidde...

        Head em up, move em out, head em out, move em up, keep those FC's rollin, keep them

        doggys trollin, Rawhide! Head em up, move em out, move em out, head em up, Raaw

        Hidde! Yaah! (Enter whip crackle here) LOL

      • 5 Years Ago
      Martin said, "Call it 18% to be safe and you straightway increase the value of the output to around $45k/yr."

      Wow, with the grant it should take less than 4 years to pay for itself in Phoenix.

      I know what you believe about renewables in the wrong places. PV arrays will have to become more efficient before they can work in Pittsburgh, Portland and Germany. I also know you must build redundancy into a renewable energy systems because of intermittency. I still think it is better to run the renewables before firing up a fossil fuel plant of any kind or nuclear plant. Yes, you must build a NG plant to supplement renew ables but you are still supplementing fossil fuel use by using renewables.

      I know you do not agree because of the efficiency the NG, coal and nuke plants is higher if they are run all the time or given proper time to spool up. The coal, nukes and NG plants need to get better about running efficiently immediately. Yes, their are many opportunity cost that must be weighed. I don't think the grid in general is going to go to long without finding a relatively inexpensive way to store energy, largely electricity.
      • 5 Years Ago
      if the station serves 100 cars a day and half charges a 24kwh battery, then it needs to store 1200kwh.
      At $375/kwh for the batteries that is $450,000
        • 5 Years Ago
        The point of the battery storage is supposed to be to store cheap rate electricity.
        That happens overnight so they would be charged then, and used to charge any cars that came in the next day.
        They are supposed to pay for themselves then by arbitraging the price of off-peak to peak rate electricity, and so need storage for however many cars will use the station all day.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Thats still significantly cheaper than a gas station. Malls and shopping districts will snap these up.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Maybe I don't follow your math. But 100 car will not be charging at the exact same time and the filling station batteries can be continually recharged. They may only need a 10th of that total capacity at any given time. What do they currently spend on petrol storage tanks? It maybe more.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I dont know why they went with battery storage, flywheels would probably work out much more economical for a stationary application.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If you were to do something silly like use Optima Yellow top lead-acid batteries (at retail cost, ~$325.76 per kilowatt-hour, which I find surprising considering how it compares to the much better batteries that Nissan is making, but again, that's retail) the same battery capacity would cost just under $391,000.

        I have to wonder how that stacks up against installing underground tanks large enough to service 100 cars daily with gasoline.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Other batteries might be a bit cheaper, but then again I only allowed 100 fills in the day.
        The relevant comparison is not with petrol stations, but with the price of using full-rate electricity during the day rather than storing the off-peak.
        The economics of that sound doubtful to say the least, and that is without going into the mysterious process where they are pumping 12kwh into the car battery in next to no time without damaging it or causing a fire.
        The only battery technology that I am aware of which could cope with that is lithium titanate, and most of the batteries being made are lithium manganese.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Since the station batteries don't need to be mobile it doesn't really matter how much room they take up or how much they weigh, so you don't need to use Li-ion, you can use sodium sulfur or NiCad which should help to reduce the cost per kWh.
      • 5 Years Ago
      David Martin said, "if the station serves 100 cars a day and half charges a 24kwh battery, then it needs to store 1200kwh.
      At $375/kwh for the batteries that is $450,000"

      How about this David Martin, 50% on a 100 mile rang vehicle is one thing. When vehicles start coming out with 200 and 300 mile range such as the next generation Leaf and the Tesla model S, will a 50% charge in five minutes still be attainable? How large would the stations charging packs have to be at this point to charge a 100 cars per day?

      As for the stations themselves: When the grid is smarter, these batteries could help with load leveling the smart grid. Of course any roof at the stations would have solar panels to trickle charge the batteries or help run the station. Yes, I know solar would provide a small amount of energy compared with what is needed, still, in the sunny areas it should be a law.

      To have the choice to charge just 50% in five minutes would be good, for instance if I only had approx 40 more miles to go to my destination but my BMS screen said I had 30 miles range left. If I knew I had a plug at my destination and was planning on staying their I would like the 50% in five minutes to get me to my lodgings.

      50% in five minute yes, but you can leave it on after you receive 50% and you will probably get to 80% in the same time as three phase DC to DC charging which is 26 minutes. How fast will the fast charge three phase DC to DC charge you to 50%?

      If a station was servicing 100 cars per day, I believe it would be set up similiar to current petrol stations. Under the premium island you would have 16 pumps/cords or high capacity cords ready to service vehicles. Each pump would have it's own set of batteries. So many pumps/cords so to speak would allow the batteries time to recharge while other pumps or cords were being used.

      Recharge stations could offer regular, plus and premium prices for domestic electrons. The regular is 220v 20 amp charging. The plus may consist of a faster 220v charge or a slower DC to DC charge. The premium would consist of fast three phase DC to DC charging to 50% in 5 minutes or 80% in 26 mins. Stations could further market the renewable clean energy angle for different marketing ploys.

      I can see it now... I get to tend the rabbits, "Mice and Men"
        • 5 Years Ago
        DC is ... DC. It doesn't have phases. o.O
        • 5 Years Ago
        'How large would the stations charging packs have to be at this point to charge a 100 cars per day?'

        Roughly twice as large for 200 miles, of course, although technically as the battery size gets larger you are not likely to need so much in every car - most will just be looking for a lesser top up.
        The issue is really whether the battery in your car would take such fast charging, AFAIK only the lithium titanate chemistry would be likely to be really ready for this - that is why this article sounds nuts to me.
        Another issue is the local electric transmission system, which is going to have to be capable of bearing sudden loads.
        That is one reason I like the idea of using a fuel cell in a battery car - you would never have to charge your battery in a hurry, just run on fuel, preferably something like this:
        http://www.greencarcongress.com/2010/05/yang-20100504.html#more

        Massive loads on the transmission system make me surprisingly friendly for a nuclear guy to local generation of power for EV cars - or at least where you have nutty Californian electric rates.

        My main objection to renewables has always been folks habit of sticking things where the sun don't shine.
        For States in the South West of the US, the characteristics of solar power would be surprisingly good for this application instead of using such big batteries.
        1,200kwh/day would represent an energy flow of around 100kw.
        Call it 200kw to make up for reduced solar incidence in the winter and when the sun was not very high in the sky.
        Compare that to the prices of similar installations here - check out the 217kw one for $1.06 million:
        http://www.pv-tech.org/news/_a/pennsylavania_awards_another_5.7_million_for_solar_pv_projects_with_3.6mw_i/

        That is around $5/watt.
        The nice thing is that it would take load off of the grid, and pretty much match up with demand during the day.
        You might need a much smaller backing battery, perhaps 100kwh, to smooth the load.

        Call it $1.2 million. Over 5 years at 100 customers/day that comes to around 1.8 million charges.
        At $1 each that is paid for, if you can persuade them to buy a coffee whilst the car is charging then you are making some serious money - no real need to rush the charge that much so different chemistries could be accommodated, although you might need more charge points to get the customers through.
        At 10% efficiency the solar array would cover around 2,000 meters and would be of sufficient size to be more easily maintained than on houses.

        Weaknesses would include the lack of power after the sun had set, so more powerful batteries might be needed, but it would seem that such a system would greatly reduce transmission loads on the grid.

        Of course some lunatic would doubtless decide to build the same thing in up-state New York, and wonder why the cars did not charge in the winter, but for the South Western states it would seem that solar could make a real contribution.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I just did some math and the efficiency of this Pittsburgh rig works out at around 12%!
        Crazy.
        You could hit nearly 20% in Phoenix.
        Call it 18% to be safe and you straightway increase the value of the output to around $45k/yr.
        Then you factor in that most of the output in Phoenix would be at peak rate when it is hot.
        • 5 Years Ago
        EV,
        As I said, the trouble with much of the use of 'renewables' is that people get ideological and stick them where the sun don't shine.
        If you put the same array in Phoenix instead of Pittsburgh you would up the efficiency, but more importantly you would be getting the power at peak when electricity is expensive.
        In Pittsburgh demands during the winter when little sun is around are going to be high, so you would still have to import a lot of electricity when it is dear.

        I reckon in Phoenix you could at least double the return, and pay for it within perhaps 15 years.
        Of course, I can't be certain about that without intensive study of relative electricity rates etc in the two areas, but the basic principle is clear and is what is so messed up in the siting and use of renewables.
        You put the equipment where the resource is plentiful and available when you want it.
        Whole troops of scam merchants are trying to get massive subsidies to install renewables where they are a very poor answer.
        Beware of navigation canals!
        • 5 Years Ago
        "•W.J. Beitler Co. will receive a $347,200 grant to install a 217.14KW rooftop PV system at the company's facility in Pittsburgh. The installation will generate 235,597KWhr of electricity per year and save $30,000 in energy costs annually. Total project cost is $1.06 million."

        So pay back time is 33.3 years on the above system. But for the company, after applying the grant it is approx 23 years. By that time they would need to be replaced.

        Your greencarcongress link is interesting. In the future world of a EV light duty fleet, the light duty fleet can almost get by without any refinery plants for FC and ICE but long haul trucks may use them and because they are there, the light duty fleet may want to use them, if FCV's become cheap and the longevity is there.

        Tim W. said, "DC is ... DC. It doesn't have phases. o.O" Doh!

        So, three phase, fast charge is AC and it will go into the on board charger, be converted by the motor controller and regulated by the BMS for flow and balance into the battery pack?

        So, in reference to the DC to DC charging, the AC will come through the transmission lines and be converted at the charger into DC. After this conversion the DC will go striaght to the battery pack with the charger and BMS regulating balance and flow for the DC to DC charge?

        Just please make it happen EV gods. It is interesting figuring it out, but as Captain Picard from "Star Trek" says, "make it so"!

        • 5 Years Ago
        Here is the actual cost of electricity from solar in Phoenix:
        http://sunpluggers.com/2010/04/burst-of-arizona-solar-prompts-second-utility-to-reduce-rebate-000169.php

        I estimated 18% as the average efficiency and $5kwh for cost.
        They give 18.2% for an ideally placed array and $5!
        How good am I? :-)

        In Phoenix they are quoting 14 cents/kwh as an unsubsidized price for a $5kwh installation, but don't seem to have allowed for interest on capital as they are talking about private customers, so it is probably a wash with the 18-20 cents they give as the peak rater cost, although in Phoenix utilities do the worrying about peak rate costs and average it for the customer.

        If you consider that the local system would need upgrading to cope with a fast charge station I reckon that in Phoenix, LA etc it would be economic to use solar for fast charge stations with some battery back up, although being definitive about it is not possible as you would have to check charging patterns etc. and also the weather very carefully to make sure that you don't have massive demand peaks when you have no sun available as then you would have to upgrade the grid anyway and loose your savings.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Sounds like a sophisticated game of russian roulette...
      • 5 Years Ago
      How long for the next 50%? What does this fast charging do to the battery life?
        • 5 Years Ago
        the "last 50%" takes much longer. The closer the batteries get to maximum charge, the greater the internal resistance and the lower the current must be to prevent overheating, and that is true for all types of batteries.

        Some types of LiIon batteries can get 80% charge in 15 minutes, but those batteries still need about an hour to reach full charge.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can't believe the total cost is $5/W. Prices for solar PV haven't gone down for two years now, even though production has steadily increased. I hope it's just German subsidies distorting the market. Otherwise there may be some collusion going on here.

      Think about it. I can get solar on my roof for $6 per watt, installation being about 50% of the total. This one is $5 per W which just seems wrong. Why aren't there any economies of scale for a system that is 20 to 40 times bigger?

      Consider that wholesalesolar has a complete grid tied 5kW setup for 3.35 per watt, doubling that gives you $6.70 per watt installed. Which means that it would never pay for itself versus 11.9 cents per kilowatt grid power.
      http://www.wholesalesolar.com/solarpowersystems/grid-tie-solar-power-system-wss-select-5040.html

      Solar PV costs need to come down by half at least before that becomes even thinkable.
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