Battery Tech Breakthrough Means Goodbye Range Anxiety, It's a Game Changer

This 10-min fast-charging battery was developed for electric cars, with the black box on the top containing a battery management system to control the module 6 photos
Photo: EC Power
Thermally Modulated Cell Technology (TMCT) heats cells from the inside outThermally Modulated Cell Technology (TMCT) heats cells from the inside outStoreDot promises batteries capable of adding 100 miles in 2 minutes of charging by 2024StoreDot promises batteries capable of adding 100 miles in 2 minutes of charging by 2024StoreDot promises batteries capable of adding 100 miles in 2 minutes of charging by 2024
While many advocate for higher-capacity batteries to enable electric vehicles to travel further on a battery charge, others think the opposite is better. Instead of having a big battery, it is more efficient to have a smaller one that charges in a fraction of the time.
Imagine what it would mean for electric vehicles if a full battery charge takes minutes instead of half an hour or more. Instead of wasting a lot of time charging, they would have no problem topping up a smaller battery in a couple of minutes, the same as filling up a tank. Most cars don’t need a big tank, do they?

Interestingly, Elon Musk agreed when Lucid presented their 520-mile (837-km) Air electric sedan. He said that Tesla could’ve done a longer-range car, but having such a big battery didn’t make sense. Indeed, a bigger battery significantly raises the price of an EV, while the added weight tanks efficiency. In all fairness, Teslas (or other electric cars) don’t offer the luxury of topping up their smaller batteries in minutes.

The researchers at the Pennsylvania State University have made a breakthrough in this direction and have demonstrated a high-density battery that can charge in around 10 minutes. To achieve such performance, the team led by Chao-Yang Wang has integrated a thermal management module into the battery cells, optimizing the temperature curve of the cells. Instead of regulating the temperature from the outside, like other EV battery thermal management systems, this one does it from the inside.

It features a nickel foil that rapidly warms the cell and cools it down as needed. The team has already offered prototypes using this tech and, in 2019, demonstrated a battery that charged at high temperatures. The precise temperature control afforded by the internal nickel foil allowed the battery to benefit from a fast charging rate while simultaneously avoiding the degradation typical for such extreme scenarios.

The new development allows the battery to add 200-300 miles of range in just 10 minutes of charging. The energy density of the prototype battery has increased from 209 Wh/kg to 265 Wh/kg, equivalent to the best batteries in today’s electric vehicles. The battery can charge to 70% in 11 minutes for 2,000 cycles, which the team says it’s equivalent to half a million miles traveled while exclusively using fast charging.

“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,” said Wang. “The smaller, faster-charging batteries will dramatically cut down battery cost and usage of critical raw materials such as cobalt, graphite, and lithium, enabling mass adoption of affordable electric cars.”

The Pennsylvania State University lab partnered with State College-based startup EC Power to develop the technology. The company is also looking to manufacture and commercialize the fast-charging battery. If you recall, StoreDot and other companies also works on EV batteries that can charge from 10% to 80% in 10 minutes or less, although there are key differences.
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About the author: Cristian Agatie
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After his childhood dream of becoming a "tractor operator" didn't pan out, Cristian turned to journalism, first in print and later moving to online media. His top interests are electric vehicles and new energy solutions.
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