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

The top contenders for EV batteries compared. Farther from center is better. TM LFP blade battery fulfills all main criteria required for mass-market EVs. Image Credit: Penn State University. Click image for the largest view.

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 stated, “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.”

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

The study results published in Nature Energy shows that the key to long-life and rapid recharging is the battery’s ability to quickly heat up to 140° Fahrenheit (60° C), for charge and discharge, and then cool down when the battery is not working.

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

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° 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.”

This is just about the most cheerful and confident press release in memory. It makes your humble writer smile brightly. There are still some issues unanswered like actual weight and volume, then manufacturing processes and the economics when at the consumers decision point. Lets hope that Tesla, the major automobile manufacturers, motorcycle and bike manufacturers have a good long look. Here’s wishing this team gets great commercial results.


Comments

3 Comments so far

  1. Roseland67 on February 19, 2021 7:27 AM

    Hey humble writer,

    Please add the required charging voltage for indicated 10 minute charge times.
    If the battery is 100 kWh and it can be charged in 10 minutes, that would suggest 600 kw of available power, which no one has.

  2. MATTHEW P MUSSON on February 22, 2021 2:44 PM

    When you develop a battery that can recharge in 10 minutes you find out something special:

    There are no charges that can deliver a 10 minute charge. And, adding chargers like that would overwhelm the transformers and feeder lines in residential areas. Think how your bathroom fuses would trip if someone plugged in a 5000 watt hair dryer.

  3. Steve Barbie on February 23, 2021 4:03 PM

    Of course no one has 10 minute chargers! And no one was developing smartphone apps 20 years ago. You don’t develop accessories for something that doesn’t exist yet, and won’t exist for a couple years.

    Can’t develop 10 minute chargers? Of course you can! Just put local storage (more of these batteries) at the charging station. Let that local storage continuously charge up at a sustainable rate from the grid, then do a fast dump when a car plugs in. (kind of like the big storage tank they have at every gas station)

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