Have you seen the empty light on your gas tank many times? People who answer yes to this question are one of the reasons why the popularity of electric cars remains limited. Many of us are simply too busy or too irresponsible to fit multi-hour battery charges into our schedules.
That could soon change: Penn State engineers have just figured out how to charge car batteries in 10 minutes for 200-300 miles of driving. “Fast charging is the key to enabling widespread introduction of electric vehicles,” says Chao-Yang Wang, who published his team’s work in Joule.
The secret is heat. Previously, charging times were limited because lithium-ion batteries were degrading when charged at typical outdoor temperatures. The culprit was lithium plating, which is when deposits form on anode surfaces when batteries are charged at under 50 degrees Celsius. The plating shortens battery life. Wang’s team dodged this by charging batteries at various temperatures from 20 to 60 degrees Celsius. They found that with a 60-degree Celsius heat boost, batteries could recharge 2,500 times with no lithium plating. (At 20 degrees Celsius, batteries recharged a measly 60 times.)
This is an 80% plummet in charge time over most of the batteries currently on the market, which need around 50 minutes—just long enough to make many of us really late.
You can check out the full study here.