Adding a nickel foil to EV batteries could speed up charge time while also reducing battery size and saving resources, time, and money
Spotted: One barrier to the faster uptake of electric vehicles (EVs) is the time it takes to recharge them compared with filling a gas tank. But what if you could recharge an EV in just about the same time it takes to fill a tank with gas? We might be about to find out, thanks to research work conducted at Penn State University and college-based startup EC Power, and published recently in the journal Nature. The researchers claim to have made a breakthrough in battery design which has enabled a 10-minute charge time for a typical EV battery.
The new technology uses an active method of temperature control, called internal thermal modulation, in order to keep batteries at the optimum temperature, allowing faster charging. Rather than regulate the battery temperature using external heating and cooling systems, the researchers regulate the temperature from inside the battery. To achieve this, they developed a new battery structure that adds an ultrathin nickel foil, in addition to the anode, electrolyte, and cathode.
The nickel foil self-regulates the battery’s temperature and reactivity, which the researchers claim will allow just about any battery to fast-charge in just about 10 minutes. As an added bonus, the new battery technology will also allow a longer travel range from smaller batteries – saving both resources and weight in electric vehicles. EC Power is currently working to manufacture and commercialise the new battery design.
Penn State Professor Chao-Yang Wang, the lead author on the study, pointed out that, “The need for smaller, faster-charging batteries is greater than ever. There are simply not enough batteries and critical raw materials, especially those produced domestically, to meet anticipated demand.” Wang added that, “Our fast-charging technology works for most energy-dense batteries and will open a new possibility to downsize electric vehicle batteries from 150 to 50 kWh without causing drivers to feel range anxiety.”
Batteries are key to carbon reduction – but current battery technology is still too resource-intensive to be truly sustainable. The importance of improving the sustainability of battery technology is evident in the number of new innovations we are seeing in this sector. These include developments such as a biological battery powered by soil and a battery manufacturing process that cuts the amount of chemicals needed.
Written By: Lisa Magloff