Technology

Breakthrough Allows Inexpensive Electric Vehicle Battery to Charge in Just 10 Minutes

Thermally Modulated Battery for Electric Vehicles

A thermally modulated battery for mass-market electric vehicles without range anxiety and with unsurpassed safety, low cost, and containing no cobalt, is being developed by a team of Penn State engineers. Credit: Chao-Yang Wang’s lab, Penn State

Range anxiety, the fear of running out of power before being able to recharge an electric vehicle, may be a thing of the past, according to a team of Penn State engineers who are looking at lithium iron phosphate batteries that have a range of 250 miles with the ability to charge in 10 minutes.

“We developed a pretty clever battery for mass-market electric vehicles with cost parity with combustion engine vehicles,” said Chao-Yang Wang, William E. Diefenderfer Chair of mechanical engineering, professor of chemical engineering and professor of materials science and engineering, and director of the Electrochemical Engine Center at Penn State. “There is no more range anxiety and this battery is affordable.”

The researchers also say that the battery should be good for 2 million miles in its lifetime.

They report today (January 18, 2021) in Nature Energy that the key to long-life and rapid recharging is the battery’s ability to quickly heat up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit, for charge and discharge, and then cool down when the battery is not working.

“The very fast charge allows us to downsize the battery without incurring range anxiety,” said Wang.

The battery uses a self-heating approach previously developed in Wang’s center. The self-heating battery uses a thin nickel foil with one end attached to the negative terminal and the other extending outside the cell to create a third terminal. Once electrons flow it rapidly heats up the nickel foil through resistance heating and warm the inside of the battery. Once the battery’s internal temperature is 140 degrees F, the switch opens and the battery is ready for rapid charge or discharge.

Wang’s team modeled this battery using existing technologies and innovative approaches. They suggest that using this self-heating method, they can use low-cost materials for the battery’s cathode and anode and a safe, low-voltage electrolyte. The cathode is thermally stable, lithium iron phosphate, which does not contain any of the expensive and critical materials like cobalt. The anode is made of very large particle graphite, a safe, light and inexpensive material.

Because of the self-heating, the researchers said they do not have to worry about uneven deposition of lithium on the anode, which can cause lithium spikes that are dangerous.

“This battery has reduced weight, volume and cost,” said Wang. “I am very happy that we finally found a battery that will benefit the mainstream consumer mass market.”

According to Wang, these smaller batteries can produce a large amount of power upon heating — 40 kilowatt hours and 300 kilowatts of power. An electric vehicle with this battery could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds and would drive like a Porsche, he said.

“This is how we are going to change the environment and not contribute to just the luxury cars,” said Wang. “Let everyone afford electric vehicles.”

Reference: “Thermally modulated lithium iron phosphate batteries for mass-market electric vehicles” by Xiao-Guang Yang, Teng Liu and Chao-Yang Wang, 18 January 2021, Nature Energy.
DOI: 10.1038/s41560-020-00757-7

Other Penn State researchers working on this project were Xiao-Guang Yang, assistant research professor of mechanical engineering, and Teng Liu, doctoral student in mechanical engineering.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the William E Diefenderfer Endowment supported this research.

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  • In the past 5 years I saw several such miraculous battery announcements, but nothing materialized in consumer production. There are only two possibilities:
    a) fake news
    b) someone is systematically purchasing those patents

  • Highly suspect article, both large and small - large in that it claims to solve the largest issues facing EVs, does it cheaply and with common materials, and small in that it makes claims that have next to nothing to do with the actual battery - it'll enable a car to do 0-60 in 3 seconds and handle like a Porsche. Might as well have added that this new battery will enable cars to have wheels and be painted red.

    As the precious comment highlighted, announces like these are a dime a dozen and never seem to come to fruition.

    I hope it works, but I'll believe it, and get excited about it, when it's actually in a car available for purchase. Until then, it's another piece of vaporware.

  • Lithium Iron Phosphate Technology is already being used by Tesla at China prod facility.

    From June 2020: "Total vehicle efficiency has gotten good enough — with Model 3 for example — that we actually are comfortable having an iron phosphate battery pack in Model 3 in China. That will be in volume production later this year. So we think that getting a range that is in the high 200s — almost 300 miles — with an iron phosphate pack taking into account a whole bunch of of powertrain and other vehicle efficiencies.
    And that that frees up a lot of capacity for things like the Tesla Semi and other projects that require higher energy density [batteries]. So you have two supply chains that you can tap into: iron phosphate or nickel-based chemistries."

  • “We developed a pretty clever battery for mass-market electric vehicles with cost parity with combustion engine vehicles,
    ......
    “There is no more range anxiety and this battery is affordable.
    ......

    Does anyone know exactly what this means? 'cost parity with combustion engine vehicles' and 'affordable' means ??? $500, $5000, $1000????

  • Furthermore, there's no Wh/kg and no cycle life rating. Heating batteries up (even lifepo4) quickly like that would reduce life cycle.

    • It's actually been found that heating a battery while fast charging will extend a battery's life by reducing the buildup of dendrites on the anode and increase their ability to take a charge quickly by speeding up the chemical process.

  • The charge/ discharge of this battery suggests that buses and taxis would be the best app. A much smaller /cheaper battery that is recharged every hour at the end of a run.

  • There was going to be a carburetor that gave 200 MPG. Never happened. Nuclear fusion power plants will dot the landscape by 2020. Didn't happen. We will colonize Mars by 2020. Nope.

    If something sounds too good to be true,it probably is.

  • "Range anxiety, the fear of running out of power before being able to recharge an electric vehicle, may be a thing of the past, according to a team of Penn State engineers who are looking at lithium iron phosphate batteries that have a range of 250 miles with the ability to charge in 10 minutes."

    Right off the bat this article is suspect. Batteries don't have a range. A car has a range and it comes from several factors; the number of cells in the battery pack, chemistry of the batteries, weight of the car, aerodynamics, power usage, efficiency of the motors, efficiency of the inverter, efficiency of regenerative breaking, efficiency of power distribution, etc.

    "An electric vehicle with this battery could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds and would drive like a Porsche, he said."

    Again. A battery doesn't have a speed, a car does and it depends on everything I listed above.

  • Good grief... It turns out that this is only a theoretical study. They haven't built or tested anything.

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Penn State University

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