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If you're planning on investing in a DC fast charger to get your electric vehicle battery 80 percent juiced up in 30 minutes, you might want to stick with your Level 2 charger for a while longer. Korean scientists at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) have developed a lithium ion battery that can be recharged 30 to 120 times (!) faster than li-ion batteries on the market today. What's your guestimate on how long a li-ion battery using that technology would take to recharge? How about this one: less than a minute!

Li-ion battery packs have been getting smaller and lighter all the time, gaining more capacity and faster charging rates than previous versions. Breaking larger batteries into smaller individual cells has been making EV batteries better, but that technique only gets you so far. The new Korean method takes the cathode material – standard lithium manganese oxide (LMO) in this battery – and soaks it in a solution containing graphite. Then, by carbonizing the graphite-soaked LMO, the graphite turns into a dense network of conductive traces that run throughout the cathode. These networks of carbonized graphite effectively act like blood vessels, allowing every part of the battery to recharge at the same time – speeding up recharge rates to an unheard-of pace.

These ultra-fast charging batteries aren't expected to be cheap, which is a problem since the li-ion battery packs currently used in EVs are already too expensive for most car shoppers. The research paper that describes the technology, "Carbon-Coated Single-Crystal LiMn2O4 Nanoparticle Clusters as Cathode Material for High-Energy and High-Power Lithium-Ion Batteries," sounds much too PhD-level and dry for anyone to read, but they show the technology moving forward. As cool as it is, if this innovation takes hold, many consumers will continue to look for EVs that carry this type of battery and have competitive market pricing. Don't expect to see that anytime soon.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 99 Comments
      goodoldgorr
      • 2 Years Ago
      This is too dangeurous as if there is a short it will go kaboom
      jeffwishart
      • 2 Years Ago
      I didn't see any mention of demand charges in this discussion. These are already out of control for current DCFCs, and that is only 60 kW of power or less. Prospective owners are already reluctant to spend the capital and have these massive operating costs on top. I have strong doubts that having higher power EVSE is going to be cost-effective for a long, long time.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Once it's no longer just a nerd fest, but a money chase" I think I was just insulted. ;) I love it.
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      LOL!!!!
      PeterScott
      • 2 Years Ago
      Of all the research on batteries, this is by far the least interesting to me. EVs are going to be primarily charged at home and secondarily most likely at work. In both of these places, charging time will be measured in hours. The most important breakthroughs needed are in: 1: Cost: 2: Energy density. 3: Durability.
        Tysto
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PeterScott
        This is so wrong it's not funny. The question everyone asks when they hear about an EV is "what is the range?" The next question is "how long does it take to recharge?" Cost is third, and then acceleration and top speed. Always. It's fine for costs to go down and density and durability to go up in gradual advancements. If this breakthru pans out, it answers everyone's first concerns about whether or not they'll be able to drive it to grandma's a few hundred miles away and if they'll be stranded if they don't husband their range correctly.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Tysto
          Cost, is NOT something that scientists or researchers have much to do with (unless a precious material is used or the process is very cumbersome)... costs are calculated after most everything else is known. If the total package is overall better than any other pack on the market, it will cost more... even if it cheaper to make. That is the market.
          JP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Tysto
          Cost and range are linked. The technology has to be cheap enough to put enough of it in a vehicle. The longer range a vehicle has the less you need to worry about fast charging, since you can make any rational trip on a single charge.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PeterScott
        Very fast, and available charging... supplements number 2. The more available fast charging is.... the less the need for energy density.
          JP
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          I have to agree with Peter. First of all Altairnano can already do 5 minute recharge, but no one uses them because they are too expensive and the specific energy is poor. If you can't afford them or fit enough range in the vehicle fast charging just doesn't matter. And 5 minutes is plenty fast enough.
          PeterScott
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          No matter the pack size, better energy density is always a win, because less weight equal greater efficiency. Also, I would never buy an with a pack sized according to the availability of fast charge stations (thus making you dependent on them). I would buy an EV based on Home charging range, perhaps work charging if I had a long commute.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          "No matter the pack size, better energy density is always a win, because less weight equal greater efficiency" Um.. with availability for fast charging, the weight WILL be lower since the pack is smaller. That also may reduce costs. "Also, I would never buy an with a pack sized according to the availability of fast charge stations (thus making you dependent on them)." That is subjective. But of course there are lower limits to the size of the pack. Even if a 1 minute charger was on every corner... nobody wants to stop that often. It has to be at least a days worth. But all I am saying is that we should not just focus on 3 narrow objectives. This technology helps the other breakthroughs.
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          JP, yes, I mention how advances in one spec of a battery does little for commercialization if it decreases another spec. I am simply arguing against the idea of ignoring good research because it doesn't directly target the 3 most important. That 1st part, cost, is NOT something that scientists or researchers have much to do with... costs are calculated after most everything else is known. If Altairnano batteries did not sacrifice energy density for specific power, they would be used much more. But they did, so they are not preferred for EVs. Yet, their example helps show other researchers that the prize is out there. It can often represent a "4 minute mile" moment that allows confidence.
      Rotation
      • 2 Years Ago
      To fill a 24kWh battery in 1 minute would require 1.5MW service. That is not going to be common any time soon.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        Not likely. The Charger would need a large bank of capacitors yes. But the capacitors will discharge it's energy into the EV very quickly... then charge back up using grid power (or solar, wind, whatever available) at the much slower pace which that particular location can handle. Where ever is suitable for today's Level 3 charging, you can put this Mega charger... and the EV can get it's charge in under a minute. The only down side would be that the charger itself would need to recharge for about 30 minutes before another EV came by. They could be placed in Level 2 charging areas too, but the time in between customers would be hours. The important thing is that the driver is not expected to park for the length of time that the "utility service" would need to fill up the battery. It will be buffered by the charger. Today's capacitors can work as a charger buffer, they are very big and heavy, but since it is stationary, no problem. ------------ The only thing that would hold this technology back, is cost. And maybe if the benefit of super fast charging came at the expense of one of the other specifications (cycle life, calendar life, durability, operating temp, etc.) But we'll see.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        Also, before you even bring it up as a show stopper. No, this mega charging will NOT likely go through a cable like today's Level 1, 2, and 3 charging. More likely the battery will need to be on the bottom of the vehicle, with very large metal connections facing the road. The car receives a wireless signal as it drives over the charger that is below (either buried, or the EV goes up on a ramp). The huge battery connections on the EV are covered normally, but the covers move away when the signaled by the charger. The Charger's connection are actuated upwards to make contact, good solid contact with the EV connectors. Self tests are run to insure minimal resistance. Then, the power flows.
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        MegaWatt service from the utility company is a red herring that doesn't deserve to be a part of the discussion. That kind of service is needed for a constant power demand. EV charging for 1 minute is NOT justification for a MW service. That would be needed if you thought that a thousand EVs every day would be lined up to use your charger. That is silly. A public EV charger will not be used that way. Even with millions of EVs on the road, the primary means of charging will be Home, secondary will be work, tertiary will be Level 2 public charging, quartary will might be fast charging. The energy will be buffered based on how much demand the station owner anticipates. A few dozen per day is likely. It is a better question is, can a station owner make a profit on Mega Charging?
        Anne
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Rotation
        Yes, you can simply call up your energy company and order a 1.5 MW connection. No prob. What century do you live in?
          paulwesterberg
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          @Rotation so in your world large building connections and industrial manufacturing facilities get their power from the power company via hundreds of 120 volt extension cords? Here in the real world my electric company allows industrial customers to purchase 10MW service, here is the rate schedule: https://www.mge.com/images/PDF/Electric/Rates/E21.pdf
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          Uh-huh. Yeah. Sure. I'm sure you call them right up and say you want 1.5MW (probably more, you don't want just one charger, what if it is broken?) brought to a rest stop so cars can stop and charge and they'll give you a quote. You may not be happy with number on the quote. 1.5MW service will not be common any time soon.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Anne
          paulwasterberg: Absolutely it is available. In industrial areas. Are you confused about the difference between common and available? From your pdf: 'AVAILABILITY Available to commercial and industrial customers served at 69,000 volts or higher from existing facilities.' Is 69KV service available in the area where you would like to locate this charger? If not, 'The customer will pay, in advance of construction, all costs estimated by the Company for facilities required to connect the customer to the Company's existing system. ' These prices are higher than I expected. Especially given they are interruptible service (you must stop using on demand on peak days and in fact the utility requires they have an off switch at their site to enforce this!).
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      Electron, i'll be honest, i can't. I'd love to hear where the energy goes when an inductive charger is 90% efficient - in all other instances, electrical energy turns to heat. but even 1% of that 10% loss turning into heat would be 18,000 watts.. An electric arc can generate a good amount of heat - so i have a feeling that wireless induction charging does the same thing. Just an educated guess of what happens, at this point
      BipDBo
      • 2 Years Ago
      That was covered in her 10% loss assumption. We're talking about a theoretical battery, so that loss could really be anything. Given, at that power, 10% may be a low guess.
      JakeY
      • 2 Years Ago
      For all the people arguing about how the heck the grid and a connector will handle this, just look at existing 500kW chargers for buses: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKM8v0Vdasc There's also plans to install a wireless inductive version of this. The idea will be similar for cars, except maybe under the car instead of on top. And I don't think 1 minute is really necessary. Even 5 minutes is plenty fast and decreases the power demand by 5x.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      Obviously any charger that could charge this battery, would need to buffer the energy somehow since Megawatt service from the power utility company is not feasible. Suitable energy storage is not developed yet, and it is only my assumption that it will be by the time this battery tech is available. 1) Capacitors currently have much too low energy density. Even with the best capacitors today, it would take a 40' shipping container sized capacitor to store the energy needed for one 30 kwh pack. And that makes it impractical. High cost is the natural result of this. If the energy density were to approach that of Li-Ion batteries, costs would come down. 2) High power batteries like the battery featured in this article, but used as the buffer. That could only work if the cycle life were high enough to handle a dozen or so cycles per day.... and still last for years. So at least 10,000 cycles. While maintaining a power output of over a MW. We'll see. 3) Flywheel energy storage. Sounds very promising if you look at Beacon Power's 25 kwh storage system. Must be stored underground because although an explosion may contain less energy than a gallon of gasoline, the damage radius is MUCH larger since it is pure kinetic energy and not thermal. But I have no Idea how much a 25 kwh flywheel costs today. Nor can I guess what it might cost decades from now. Does anybody know?
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Joeviocoe
        Well, it looks like the Beacon Power flywheel only outputs about 100 KW even though it stores 25 kwh. So even if a mega charging station had two... it would take more than 9 minutes to fill up a 30 kwh pack. There would need to be at least 6 large flywheels to get the full charge down to 3 minutes. But the good news would be that with six 25 kwh flywheels. That is 150 kwh available, So with six flywheels, 5 EVs per day (with 30 kwh packs) can be fully recharged using only stored energy. Each EV charging in about 3 - 5 minutes, but only one at a time. With twelve flywheels, 10 EVs per day (with 30 kwh packs) can be fully recharged using only stored energy. At this point, it may be possible to do business without any expensive peak demand charges from the utility, since the station could recharge itself during off-peak times. Much cheaper. But of course, whether or not it is a good business plan, all depends on the cost of each flywheel and the true demand for a mega fast charging station (EV's per day).
      2 Wheeled Menace
      • 2 Years Ago
      Let's do the math.. just for the sake of hilarity! In the future, let's just say that the average electric car has 30kw-hrs. If you want a 1 minute charge time to 80%, you need a 60C rate. 60C x 30KW = 1.8 mega watts. Hm, what's a 1.8 mega watt fast charging plug look like? lol. ( look up 'substation switch closing' on youtube if you want an idea )
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        I am talking about maybe a full square foot of surface contact area for each, positive, negative, ground. No, a "plug" will NOT be a good idea. But by the time this is possibly available, EV drivers will be used to wireless charging of just parking over a coil. So the customer gets the same experience.
          Rotation
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Joe, I'm with you, I don't see the size of contacts being an issue. Dimensional stability might be, but all this can be worked out.
        Electron
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        How about inductive charging?
        Joeviocoe
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        No, this mega charging will NOT likely go through a cable like today's Level 1, 2, and 3 charging. More likely the battery will need to be on the bottom of the vehicle, with very large metal connections facing the road. The car receives a wireless signal as it drives over the charger that is below (either buried, or the EV goes up on a ramp). The huge battery connections on the EV are covered normally, but the covers move away when the signaled by the charger. The Charger's connection are actuated upwards to make contact, good solid contact with the EV connectors. Self tests are run to insure minimal resistance. Then, the power flows.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          my bad.. you said wireless signal.. i misread.. :(
          Joeviocoe
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          1) I said nothing of inductive charging. It is clear that I am talking conductive charging, straight DC, to the battery cells, large surface area connections. 2) Certainly not a charging solution for the 'garage' or anywhere near the home. The buffer (capacitors, flywheels, whatever) is likely to be either too big or too expensive or both.. for home use.
          2 Wheeled Menace
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Joeviocoe
          Uh.. heh.. yeah, but.. Inefficiency generates heat. So if the inductive charging is 10% inefficient and you have to push 1,800,000 watts, you could end up making 180,000 watts of heat. For reference, a big electric heater for a large house would produce just 2000-4000 watts.. Better call up NASA and see if they have some used rocket booster liner for your garage, lol.
        BipDBo
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        In my mind, I hear the shouting voice of Doc Brown.
        Spec
        • 2 Years Ago
        @2 Wheeled Menace
        Hm, what's a 1.8 mega watt fast charging plug look like? Yeah, I imagine a DeLorean with a pole sticking up from it.
      Joeviocoe
      • 2 Years Ago
      The larger size capacitors are much cheaper than you are thinking. These are not capacitors designed for use in a car. These are industrial sized. And even at $100,000 per station, it may be cost effective. And using capacitors aren't even the crux of the idea. If the battery described in this article becomes cheap enough to put in an affordable EV, then that technology can be used. If it can charge that fast, it can discharge fast too.
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