From: dave levitan, Yale Environment360
Published September 7, 2012 08:41 AM

Creating Faster Charging Electric Car Batteries

The amount of time it takes to recharge lithium-ion batteries has been a major impediment to consumer acceptance of electric vehicles. But a host of companies and researchers are working intensively to develop a battery that can recharge in 10 minutes and power a car for hundreds of miles.

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If stopping for gas took five or six hours, would you rethink that road trip? How about an hour? When it comes to electric vehicles, topping up the "tank" does indeed take a long time, one of the primary barriers to more widespread adoption of EVs. So it is no surprise that there is an aggressive push to improve batteries and charging infrastructure, with a goal of making a stop for a recharge no different than a stop for gas.

But pushing a lot of power into a little battery in a short time presents daunting technical challenges. Standard lithium-ion batteries simply aren’t optimized to receive a charge quickly; the car, the plug, and even the wiring would likely need to be revamped in order to enable substantially faster power flow. And there are serious questions about whether the power grid is sufficiently robust to allow massive hits from thousands — or millions — of rapidly charging EVs.

Still, a wide range of companies — from major EV players like General Motors and Nissan to smaller battery manufacturers like Envia, PolyPlus, and A123 Systems — are all pursuing a durable, rapidly rechargeable battery. This means developing higher energy densities, smaller batteries, and — to reduce charging times — lowering internal resistance to ion flow. All these innovations must be achieved while reducing the chances of catastrophic failure, such as the battery catching fire, and keeping down the costs of manufacturing.

Electric Vehicle Charging via Shutterstock.

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