Engineering 101

Low-Cost EV Battery Charges Fast and Reduces Range Anxiety

Range anxiety may finally be a thing of the past. A team of Penn State engineers is looking at lithium iron phosphate batteries with a range of 250 miles and the ability to charge in 10 minutes.

According to 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, the battery has both mass-market capability and cost parity with combustion engine vehicles.

The researchers estimate the battery will go 2 million miles in its lifetime. In their Nature Energy report, 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, as well as cool down when the battery is not working.

The self-heating battery has reduced weight, volume, and cost, and 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 warms the inside of the battery. When the internal temperature is 140 degrees F, the switch opens, and the battery is ready for rapid charge or discharge.

The team anticipates that it will enable greater numbers to afford electric cars.

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