UC Riverside Engineers Finds Fast Charging Detrimental to EV Batteries

For the longest time, one of the greatest barriers to EV adoption was charging worries. With most developed governments looking toward net-zero economies, though, charging stations are slowly becoming more widespread and reliable. We have even seen the introduction of super-fast chargers that can charge an electric car to near full capacity in just a couple of minutes. However, according to a new study published in Energy Storage, fast charging may be doing more harm than good.

Engineers at the University of California Riverside found that fast-charging stations subject car batteries to high temperatures and resistance that can cause them to crack, leak and lose their storage capacity. “Industrial fast charging affects the lifespan of lithium-ion batteries adversely because of the increase in the internal resistance of the batteries, which in turn results in heat generation,” says Tanner Zerrin, a doctoral student who co-authored the study.

The study was led by Mihri Ozkan, a professor of electrical computer engineering, and Cengiz Ozkan, a professor of mechanical engineering in the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering. The engineers charged one set of discharged Panasonic NCR 18650B cylindrical lithium-ion batteries which is used to power Tesla cars using the same industry fast charging method used by fast chargers along the freeway.

The researchers also charged another set using a new fast-charging algorithm that learns from the battery by checking its internal resistance during charging. The algorithm stops the charging whenever internal resistance kicks in, sparing the battery’s health. Battery storage capacities remained the same for both charging techniques for the first 13 charging cycles. After that, the industry fast-charging technique caused an increased decline in capacity, with the battery keeping only 60% of its original range after 40 charging cycles.

“Capacity loss, internal chemical and mechanical damage, and the high heat for each battery are major safety concerns, especially considering there are 7,140 lithium-ion batteries in a Tesla Model S and 4,416 in a Tesla Model 3,” says study co-lead Mihri Ozkan. However, the group’s novel internal resistance charging method resulted in much lower temperatures and no damage.

“Our alternative adaptive fast charging algorithm reduced capacity fade and eliminated fractures and changes in composition in the commercial battery cells,” Cengiz Ozkan says. According to Bo Dong, a doctoral student who co-authored the paper, the proposed adaptive fast charging provides “a novel perspective for the design of fast charging technology for electric vehicles with better safety performance and longer battery lifespan.”

The UCR Battery Team recommends minimizing the use of commercial fast chargers, recharging before the battery is completely drained, and preventing overcharging. In the meantime, the researchers have applied for a patent on the adaptive internal resistance fast charging algorithm.

Lots of companies with a technology background are making their mark in the electric vehicle industry. One interesting company you should watch is Net Element (NASDAQ: NETE). They focus on providing financial technology globally, but they recently announced a merger with an EV maker. It is intriguing to follow what will happen once that deal is finalized.

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