Faster Charging EV Batteries
Faster charging and more economical electric car batteries may be the gold rush of the decade. The new oil will be found in electric car batteries that charge really quickly and offer more miles of range between charges. Many supporters believe that super-fast battery charging is key to an all-electric car future and that we’ll see them coming soon.
Many automakers who are producing electric cars are hoping for a 10-minute charge time for future electric vehicles. Industry giant Toshiba is currently working on a formula for a six-minute charge time. Chinese automaker Nio is developing a different strategy involving swapping out batteries. They hope to provide consumers with a fully-charged battery in just three minutes by having you pull into a station for a quick battery swap.
StoreDot's Next-Gen EV Batteries
In order to create a new form of battery, you have to change the chemistry of battery charging and battery cells utilizing new materials and new ways to keep the batteries from overheating while charging. Last year, an Israeli company called StoreDot created a battery for an electric scooter that was able to charge from 15 to 80% in five minutes. The goal is to be able to completely charge an electric car in just five minutes – the same amount of time it would take you to fill your gas tank at a service station.
StoreDot is now delivering its first samples of these “five-minute charge” lithium-ion battery cells. The sample cells were produced as proof of concept for potential industry partners and were sent to automakers and battery manufacturers to scrutinize. So far, StoreDot has received backing from the well-heeled British Petroleum Company (BP).
According to StoreDot, its battery cells use a variation of the lithium-ion chemistry found in current electric car batteries. The new chemistry replaces graphite in the cell’s anode with “metalloid nanoparticles.” Manufacturing of sample cells was handled by the Chinese firm Eve Energy. These cells prove that a commercially-viable version of this chemistry is both possible and practical. StoreDot says that its cells can be manufactured using the same facilities as conventional lithium-ion cells.
While this new fast charging technology is still in its infancy, if StoreDot can work with manufacturing partners in order to produce its battery cells on a massive scale, it may surpass the ambitious goals of many well established battery-producing companies.
QuantumScape Going Solid-State
Meanwhile, a decade-old startup backed by such notables as Bill Gates, John Doerr, Vinod Khosla and Lightspeed Ventures is on track to manufacture batteries with significantly longer ranges and faster charging, produced at a lower cost. QuantumScape is working on a solid-state, lithium-metal battery that eliminates the liquid electrolyte used in charging. The company has raised over $1.5 billion in capital including a partnership with Volkswagen to produce its promising technology. These batteries utilize a unique solid ceramic separator, proprietary chemical composition and manufacturing process that results in a more compact, safer to operate battery.
QuantumScape says a car using its batteries could charge to 80% of capacity in 15-minutes compared to the potentially hour-plus charging times required for today’s electric cars. The company states that cars with QuantumScape batteries could have an 80% longer range than ones using today’s lithium-ion batteries. That means cracking the code on electric cars to produce vehicles with a thousand mile or more range.
What is the Consumer's Perspective?
To put all this in perspective, a recent study found that the majority of consumers who are thinking about embracing the all-electric vehicle future aren’t as strict on the fast charging issue. The study revealed that a charging time of 31-minutes as well as a 291-mile range and a $36,000 vehicle base price is the sweet spot for mass electric car adoption. The study was commissioned by Castrol Oil and findings were based on surveys of 9,000 consumers, 750 fleet managers, and 30 automobile industry professionals in eight countries. It also discovered that the majority of potential electric car buyers feel that a breakthrough in battery technology is imminent.