Ultra-fast electric car charging, with a tailored touch

Scientists report that they have devised ultra-fast charging methods designed to power different types of electric vehicle batteries in 10 minutes or less without damage.

CHICAGO, August 22, 2022 — Despite the growing popularity of electric vehicles, many consumers are still hesitant to make the switch. One of the reasons is that it takes much longer to power an electric car than to refuel a conventional car. But speeding up the charging process can damage the battery and shorten its lifespan. Now, scientists report that they have devised super-fast charging methods designed to power different types of electric vehicle batteries in 10 minutes or less without damage.

The researchers will present their results today at the fall meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS). ACS Fall 2022 is a hybrid meeting held virtually and in-person August 21-25, with on-demand access available August 26-September 26. 9. The meeting includes almost 11,000 presentations on a wide range of scientific topics.

“Fast charging is key to increasing consumer confidence and overall adoption of electric vehicles,” says Eric Dufek, Ph.D., who is presenting this work at the meeting. “This would allow vehicle charging to be very similar to filling up at a gas station.” Such a breakthrough could help the United States meet President Biden’s goal that by 2030, half of all vehicles sold should be electric or hybrid.

Charging the lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles is a delicate balancing act. Ideally, drivers want to start as quickly as possible to get back on the road, but with today’s technology, speeding up the process can cause damage. When charging a lithium-ion battery, lithium ions migrate from one side of the device, the cathode, to the other, the anode. By moving the lithium ions faster, the battery is charged faster, but sometimes the lithium ions do not move completely through the anode. In this situation, metallic lithium can build up, which can trigger early battery failure. It can also cause cathode wear and cracking. All of these issues will reduce battery life and effective vehicle range – costly and frustrating consequences for drivers.

One solution to this conundrum is to adapt the charging protocol to optimize speed while avoiding damage to the many types of batteries currently used in vehicles. But developing optimal protocols requires a huge amount of data on how various methods affect the lifespan, efficiency, and safety of these devices. Battery design and condition, as well as the feasibility of applying a given charging protocol with the current power grid infrastructure, are also key variables.

To address these challenges, Dufek and his research team at the Idaho National Laboratory are now reporting the use of machine learning techniques that integrate charging data to create unique charging protocols. By capturing information about the state of many lithium-ion batteries during their charge and discharge cycles, scientists trained machine learning analysis to predict lifespans and the ways in which different designs would eventually fail. The team then fed this data back into the analysis to identify and optimize new protocols which they then tested on real batteries.

“We have dramatically increased the amount of energy that can enter a battery cell in a short time,” says Dufek. “Currently, we are seeing batteries charge over 90% in 10 minutes without lithium plating or cathode cracking.”

Going from an almost empty battery to a battery at 90% power in just 10 minutes is a far cry from current methods, which, at best, can fully recharge an electric vehicle in about half an hour. While many researchers are looking for methods to achieve this kind of ultra-fast charging, Dufek says one of the benefits of their machine learning model is that it ties the protocols to the physics of what’s actually going on inside. a battery.

The researchers plan to use their model to develop even better methods and to help design new lithium-ion batteries optimized for fast charging. Dufek says the ultimate goal is for electric vehicles to be able to “tell” charging stations how to power their specific batteries quickly and safely.

The researchers acknowledge support and funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Vehicle Technologies.

A recorded press briefing on this topic will be posted Monday, August 22 at 10 a.m. EST at www.acs.org/acsfall2022briefings.

ACS Fall 2022 will be a vaccination-mandated and mask-recommended event for all ACS attendees, exhibitors, vendors, and staff planning to attend in person in Chicago. For detailed information on the requirement and all ACS security measures, please visit the ACS website.

The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a nonprofit organization accredited by the United States Congress. ACS’s mission is to advance the broader chemical enterprise and its practitioners for the benefit of the Earth and all its inhabitants. The Society is a global leader in promoting excellence in science education and access to chemistry-related information and research through its multiple research solutions, peer-reviewed journals, conferences scientists, its electronic books and its weekly periodical Chemical & Engineering News. ACS journals are among the most cited, trusted and widely read in the scientific literature; however, the ACS itself does not conduct chemical research. As a leader in scientific information solutions, its CAS division partners with global innovators to accelerate breakthroughs by curating, connecting and analyzing global scientific knowledge. ACS’s principal offices are located in Washington, DC, and Columbus, Ohio.

Courtesy of the ACS Press Room.

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