Although they are slated to replace internal combustion engine cars over the next few decades, electric vehicles still have to overcome a few challenges on their way to the top of the automotive space. One major challenge so far has been charging. While you can fill up a conventional gas-powered car with fuel and be on your way within minutes, it can take an hour or longer to recharge an electric vehicle.
If you own a Tesla or have access to a supercharger network, you could bring this time down to around half an hour or less. Even though this is faster than most electric vehicle drivers can recharge, it is still a long way from the speed and convenience of pulling into a gas station and filling up a gas-powered car. As such, car and battery makers are working to develop charging technology that is fast and reliable while being safe for EV battery health.
Researchers have now revealed that a slight tweak in the way EV owners charge their cars could allow them to fill up their batteries from empty in only 10 minutes. According to Gil Tal from the University of California, the standard charging protocol that usually fills up an EV in around half an hour via supercharging tends to start at low power before ramping up and then reducing power at around 60% to 70%.
This is meant to prevent the battery from experiencing unnecessary stress and wearing down faster. Experts have been trying to ramp up charging speeds by optimizing the charging curve to give the battery more time with high power, Tal said. Researchers from the Idaho National Laboratory managed to do this by leveraging artificial intelligence algorithms to analyze how changing factors such as voltage and current affect battery aging over repeated charging cycles.
Erik Dufek from the laboratory says that he and his colleagues used data gathered from computer models and tested on actual batteries to develop a new charging protocol that is capable of charging a standard EV battery from 0% to 90% in only 10 minutes while preserving its long-term health. This protocol could revolutionize EV charging because it overcomes a major challenge to fast charging: high-voltage charging wears down EV batteries faster and negatively impacts a battery’s long-term life.
Virginia Tech’s Feng Lin says fast charging and battery health are balancing acts. While Virginia Tech was not involved in this new development, Lin notes that the risk with fast charging is that it can either lower battery capacity or damage the chemicals within the battery, thereby reducing its lifespan. But with this new charging protocol, EV drivers will be able to recharge their EVs in only 10 minutes without damaging their batteries.
As the technology to collapse EV battery charging time becomes commonplace in the years to come, electric vehicle makers such as ElectraMeccanica Vehicles Corp. Ltd. (NASDAQ: SOLO) are likely to use the technology so that motorists no longer have to stop for long periods of time during trips in order to recharge their vehicles.
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