Good news has arrived for EV drivers hoping to curb feelings of range anxiety. Eric Dufek and his colleagues at the Idaho National Laboratory have revealed that a modification to the way electric cars are charged could allow them to get 90 per cent of a full charge in just 10 minutes. This estimate is especially exciting when we consider that current methods typically require half an hour or more to fully charge an EV with a Level 3 charger.
For those unfamiliar, a standard charging protocol usually starts at low power and ramps up as time goes on, before powering back down again once it reaches 60-70 per cent battery charge to “avoid unnecessary stress on the battery,” explains Gil Tal, at the University of California, Davis, who was not involved with this particular study.
While sharing how they arrived at this finding, Dufek noted that he and his team deployed artificially intelligent algorithms to see how changing factors such as current and voltage can impact battery aging over time. “You can do things like ramping up voltage, or decreasing the voltage, or current, sequentially,” Dufek said.
The team used computer models and verified the results on real batteries, which allowed them to develop a new charging protocol that can significantly enhance the charging capabilities of an EV, while still protecting the long-term health of the battery.
According to Dufek, much of what has been learned so far about the improved protocol will be applicable for many of the different types of battery used in electric vehicles and can be implemented via a software update. “What makes it really great is that it’s improvement with no cost,” says Tal. “With the existing infrastructure and existing technology, you can get some improvement.” However, each automaker would still need to adjust the protocol based on their specific battery pack designs.
Since the basic chemistry underlying lithium-based batteries is the same, Dufek also notes that the biggest improvements in vehicle charging times are likely to come from “new battery chemistries, bigger battery designs and faster charging station technology, along with car companies enhancing their battery pack designs.”