Charge your EV in 10 minutes? Don't hold your breath


By: SGN Staff

Impatient drivers who wonder why they can't charge their EVs in the same amount of time it takes to fill a tank with gas may take heart in knowing that researchers are working on a 10-minute charge cycle. But as an article in the Guardian explains, the challenges to reaching that goal are immense.


As the article says, long charging cycles are one of the biggest obstacles to widespread EV adoption - and owners seem insistent that they should be able to use their cars just as they always used their gasoline-powered counterparts: fill up and go.


While the goal of a 10-minute charge time seems like quite a stretch of the imagination, major companies like Nissan and General Motors (as well as several smaller companies) recognize that it's what EV owners want and they're trying to accommodate.


But they're up against some very tough issues.


Today's lithium-ion batteries were never meant to take a slug of electricity big enough for a quick charge. The car, its plug, battery and wiring would probably need a major re-design. University of Illinois battery materials researcher Paul Braun, quoted in the article, said batteries "have an internal resistance to flow," and that pushing them harder than they were built for can drastically and quickly shorten their life span. But he also commented that it is a reasonable goal to expect to get between 10 and 50 miles of driving range for every minute of charge with an advanced battery technology.


Also, the changes needed to accommodate fast charging would need to ensure that the chances for failures (like battery fires) are minimized while keeping manufacturing costs low.


And there's the other side of the equation: that pesky charging infrastructure. While much has been done and said about integrating EVs into the electric grid, the EV charging infrastructure today is fragmented and remains far away from where it needs to be, as SGN Chief Analyst Jesse Berst pointed out in a recent article.


Then there's the electric grid itself. If fast charging stations become common, the grid could be in jeopardy. Braun used a rest stop on the New Jersey Turnpike at rush hour where 100 cars are plugged in and trying to charge their cars in minutes. "If they were all trying to put in 300 miles of electricity in five minutes, you're going to need a major power plant sitting next door."


Rapid charging may seem like a long shot. But if the public keeps demanding, it's likely the researchers will keep trying.


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