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back to article Korean boffins discover secret to quick-charge batteries

South Korean boffins say they have found a way to cut battery charging times for electric cars from hours down to just minutes. The discovery changes the way materials used in regular batteries are treated, according to a Yonhap report. The report says researchers placed battery ingredients in a solution containing graphite …

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Fast charging

It's all very well having batteries that can be charged in a minute but that assumes you have a mains source that can provide extremely high power levels. You're not going to get that in a domestic setting, so that rules out off-peak charging when energy is cheaper. I also doubt that there are many garages that would pay to have super high power cabling routed to their premises, at least initially.

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Pint

Re: Fast charging

It would be handy to be able to usefully charge a laptop etc. during a shortish train or ferry journey, or while savouring a pint.

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Boffin

Re: Fast charging

From the technology-as-described, I see no reason you wouldn't still be able to slow-charge overnight. And fast charge in the day at a charging facility if needed.

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Meh

And

There is only a 70% risk of a meltdown and fire but it will only take 20 minutes to charge up.

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Stop

Re: Fast charging

Your domestic power supply is good for between 60 and 100kW. A domestic charger would therefore be able to charge an electric car in less than an hour while leaving capacity for other devices. In the US EV drivers tend to visit trailer parks to charge as they have high capacity power sockets available in this sort of capacity range.

Commercial power supplies can easily handle the load of charging multiple vehicles. Garages will install anything there is a profitable market for. As the price of petrol continues to increase demand for electric will also increase and a tipping point will be reached.

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Childcatcher

Re: Fast charging

Erm!

That would be 60Amp for a normal house to 100Amp for a large house.

--FAIL--

To charge a car battery in minutes would need 10x this capacity.

Remember the power supply in this country only works because we do not all take the maximum capacity of our house at the same time. The average capacity of the distribution system for housing is only 2kW (might be slightly more or less depending where you are). The implied capacity to charge a car in minutes might be 600kW!

--FAIL--

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Re: Fast charging

There are ways around that. for instance, what about having a piece of equipment that has a battery at home thats charged at more normal rates. You can then dump the power from one battery to the other at will.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fast charging

"Dumping" all that power in one go from a battery is no easy feat, plus there's the cost of having to have two batteries of course.

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Happy

Re: Fast charging

"not going to get that in a domestic setting"

And you don't get fuel pumps that can give 50 l/min in a domestic setting either, but a visit to a garage that can do a complete battery recharge in a couple of minutes is a huge step forwards. The phrase "fill her up" can therefore continue to be used well into the future.

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Def
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Re: Fast charging

2kW? Where the hell do you live? I know for fact in Spain most fuse boxes give you around 7kW capacity into your house as standard, and in the UK and other Northern European countries that increases to around 15kW.

2kW isn't enough to run a fridge and a washing machine at the same time.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fast charging

3kW is normal in Italy.

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Re: Fast charging

Not many people have underground tanks filled with petrol either but it doesn't impede the use of petrol engines. I assume such fast charging points would be arranged a bit like petrol stations are now. Maybe some garages will even offer both fuelling systems (paying appropriate attention to safety I hope). Domestic chargers would be trickle charge variety where they can charge overnight.

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Re: Fast charging

> 3kW is normal in Italy.

The way their economy is going it's going to be donkey powered soon anyhow.

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HMB
Alert

Re: Fast charging

According to my calculations, if this technology ever get's good enough to allow charging in seconds, it's going to require 1.21 Jigawatts.

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@ZanzibarRastapopulous Re: Fast charging

3K in Italy is not really an issue... My mum lives there and there are not many more people more power hungry than that woman. She doesn't quite grasp the concept of saving energy, and if she finds a way I am sure she'll start inhaling the stuff while injecting herself with it! For some reason I can't understand she has a huge fridge and two fridge freezers. And she is not one to switch the telly off at night while she sleeps in front of it, or the aircon when there's nobody at home for a while. Never managed to educate her...

I am not sure how the average family could need more power than she does!

I really doubt that all the economic issues are because of the 3k limit at all.

And maybe there is something else to add to the list of things to tell a therapist once I finally decide to see one :)

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JBR
Pint

Re: Fast charging

standard 60-100A on 240V here in the UK = 14.4kW - 24kW max if my calculations are correct

BUT - see how the local substation gets on if everyone on the circuit starts using that at 6pm. My local friendly power distribution guru tells me they're rated to a much lower average load, hence the drive for smart meters that will help to distribute power more intelligently. (e.g. balancing a car that needs juice now against one that won't be used until 7am the following morning). Be prepared for higher unit prices for more watts!

I love the idea of all these batteries also being used to store energy- night power + wind/tide sources, and then selling back into the grid as the power is needed. Would reduce line loss too.

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Pint

Re: Fast charging

"It would be handy to be able to usefully charge a laptop etc. during a shortish train or ferry journey, or while savouring a pint."

If you're savouring a pint, shouldn't you do the responsible thing and make sure that your laptop gets a full 8 hour charge?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fast charging

Most if not all domestic settings usually have 240V available, even in the good ol USA with your freaky 110V system you have 220v for some appliances right?.

In the UK of course, every household is 240V and usually has a 100amp supply, that'll give you a decent speed charge...

BUT most home users will charge slowly at a cheap night rate, and just because it CAN charge fast, doesn't mean you MUST charge fast..

the FAST charge is needed for 'electric stations' where now we stop and refill on petrol, in the future we'll stop and recharge...

THAT is the best thing about this breakthrough!

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FAIL

@Mips

My kettle is 3kW, so I doubt that "the distribution system for housing is only 2kW".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fast charging @ Mips

You seem to be forgetting that most people are at home for more than 1minute.... so slow charging at home isn't an issue, and the big petrol stations will gladly replace daily tankers with high power lines... cheaper to run!

So take 1 hr to charge your car at home but 2 Minutes in a petrol station, sounds fine to me!

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Re: Fast charging

Erm, batteries store power in DC form and the electricity grid is AC. You would need a huge inefficient DC to AC converter to send the electricity back to the grid.

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Re: Fast charging

"I also doubt that there are many garages that would pay to have super high power cabling routed to their premises, at least initially."

I'd have thought that many garages (well, at east in Blighty) have a three phase supply.

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Unhappy

Re: Fast charging

So, when can we see these hit the market? I am still waiting for the following iron phosphate design to emerge:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/7938001.stm

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fast charging

Some corporate lobbing group will work on passing laws mandating taxpayer subsidy to create the network.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fast charging

Thank fuck Steve Todd was here to cut through some ill-informed FUD.

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@Tom 38

You (and numerous others) have missed the word "average" in Mips's original post. I doubt you leave your kettle running 24hrs a day.

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Holmes

Re: Re: Fast charging

A domestic supply is generally fused at 60A or 100A. At 250V that's 15v-25KW ONLY.

To get to 100kW you need an industrial three phase supply

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Re: Fast charging

To charge a 100Kwh battery in say 2 minutes would take 3MW peak flows.

To charge say 10 cars on a big forecourt would be 30MW peak flows.

2000 'filling stations' that big could, in a rush hour, absorb the entire existing UK grid.

More likely is that most people would 'off peak' charge at home or in slow charge stations at the roadside or designated car parks at 10KW rates.

Or if the greens get their way, spend te entire summer charging up enough for just one winter trip to the shops.

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Re: @Mips

Due to the magic of statistics, a typical house is fused at 60A or 100A. That then feeds up to twenty trips rated to trip ant anything between 6A (lighting) 32A (general rings) or even more (power showers and cookers).

3KW is about 13A give or take. which is what sockets are rated at and plugs fused for

Its perfectly possible to blow a mains 60A or 100A fuse without overrating anything else at all, and I have in fact done it.

5 x 3KW electric kettles is enough to blow a 60A fuse.

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Unhappy

Re: Fast charging

"out off-peak charging when energy is cheaper"

I don't think you would be allowed to use your domestic mains for such charging. How will the governments get their fuel tax from you. I'm sure you will have to use a special connection to a electric tax levied meter.

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h 2

Re: Fast charging

In Germany it's normal for houses have a 3 phase supply.

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FAIL

Re: Fast charging

@Giles Jones

Who's talking about sending energy back to the grid?

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Pirate

Re: Fast charging

*sigh*

Government tax on 'car electricity' soon to follow...

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WTF?

Re: Fast charging

Yeah, you can get 220 here by combining both phases coming into each house.

There is some really wacky math here with people saying that houses get only 2 or 3 kilowatts to work with. The pole out in my alley has a 22kw transformer on it (it's written on the side in big letters), and I can trace the wires to my house and a neighbor's only, so it looks like we could grab 10kw continuously without blowing anything up. In the middle of the night when not much is running, I think you could charge these batteries pretty quick.

Stop trolling electric car articles because the usage pattern isn't perfect yet. This is a damn amazing improvement if it proves to be practical, and with wide use, the price will go WAY down.

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Re: Fast charging

It would be more efficient, safer and quicker to swap the charged battery with the one in the car. But it wouldn't be cheap cos you would need a machine to make the swap because of the weight and a second battery,

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fast charging

I'm pretty sure he was referring to average household grid capacity. Most houses don't draw anywhere near 2kW all the time, while their fuse boxes allow for more peak usage, especially if there are power hungry appliances.

The grid has to be projected for an average capacity - same as overprovisioning of data links to the local exchange. The projection allows for a certain number of homes drawing their maximum allowance, while being offset by the rest which stays below 2kW at the same time. If everyone drew whatever their fuse boxes allowed them, they'd find out where the local power transformer is really fast.

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Boffin

Re: Fast charging

'Huge and inefficient' is a slight exaggeration, when you can get small and cheap power inverters that plug into your car 12v lighter socket that do exactly this. Okay, the batteries in question almost certainly won't have a p.d. of 12v, but I fail to see how the principle differs.

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Anonymous Coward

Draw from the grid

It's worth pointing out that there are ways of storing power from the grid to aggregate out peaks in demand over time, such as capacitors.

So if you really need to be able to charge in minutes at home, you would store power from the grid over several hours which would then be used to do the fast charging.

This would limit the transmission of very large currents to only the last few metres of cabling.

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Mushroom

Re: Fast charging

Interestingly, I went back in time to 1905 and attended a public debate on the introduction of motor-cars to our roads.

It was funny because there was a gentleman there who said: 'It's all very well having a fuel tank that can be refueled in a minute, but that assumes that you have big storage tanks that can hold all that petrol. You're not going to find that in a domestic setting. I doubt that many coaching inns that would pay to have these expensive fireproof tanks installed on their premises either, at least initially'

And yet, here we are....

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Flame

Petrol stations

A typical garage has a 440V 3-phase supply at 100A, enough to run the lights, pumps, the till, the coffee machine, the hot-air blowers in the toilets, the carwash out back and a bit in reserve. That's 3 x 240V x 100A, about 70kW or enough power to charge a single electric car from near-empty to full in about 50 minutes or so, assuming everything else is switched off during the charge cycle.

A five-minute charger for a 60kWhr battery pack will need to deliver 700kW; at 400V, the typical voltage for most car batteries, that's 1700A. The cables alone would be spectacular and the contacts in the connectors would have to be something really special.

Folks don't realise how much energy there is in liquid fuels like petrol compared to batteries.

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Re: Fast charging

> 2kW isn't enough to run a fridge and a washing machine at the same time.

And it certainly isn't enough to power a single fast boil kettle.

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Re: Fast charging

@pklong:

you would need a machine to make the swap because of the weight and a second battery

Might depend on the car, but something not unlike a pallet lifter could well do the job.

BTW, are manufacturers sticking to a single bigass battery unit, or has someone figured that using multiple smaller ones (in series/parallel as needed) might be more versatile (same units in different cars, number of units varies with power requirements and available space), while also giving you economy of scale.

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Re: @Tom 38

No, but everyone switches their kettle on when the closing credits for Eastenders appears, or at the ad break in the middle of Coronation Street.

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Re: Fast charging

However, electric cars were around before diesel and later petrol cars were invented. People did charge their cars at home, and an 8 hour charge would get them a 20-30 mile range. A couple of litres of peanut oil, which isn't that flammable, would give them a similar range, and the car could potentially carry a lot more than that. That is why the internal combustion engine became a popular choice to power cars.

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Re: Fast charging

In North America it is unusual for a home to have an electrical service entrance that will handle more than 30 kw.

And in summer, with air conditioning going, there is no huge amount of surplus.

So this is going to cut vehicle charging times by, at most 50%, in a normal home.

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FAIL

Re: Fast charging

Strange. I don't see any British car manufacturers owning controlling interests in their US counterparts. Don't write-off a nation that has FIAT, multiple operational ship-yards, industrial machinery manufacturers, multiple fashion and design houses, and more. (Remember, Apple don't have the biggest market share in most of their markets, but they do rake in an awful lot of the profits. Margins are important and the fashion industry has some very, very fat margins.)

Italy has 3kW supplies (in rural areas; it's 6kW in most urban apartments) for the very simple reason that the country has very few natural resources for generating electricity itself. Almost all of Italy's energy needs are imported. Electricity is imported mainly from France, Switzerland and Austria. This is also one of the reasons why the country's economy struggles to grow even during the good times: fuel costs have a far greater effect on the costs of living than almost anything else.

Mario Monti is realising this and having to explain to his EU puppeteers why he can't achieve the impossible goals they've set him. Unlike the Brits, the Italians do save money for a rainy day and there's not much consumer debt. Most of the debt is sovereign debt: Italy's government has to build and maintain infrastructure in a land with lots of mountains, three active volcanoes, plenty of earthquakes, and an ageing population. (Oh, yes, and there's a fair bit of corruption too, but it's not as if the UK is exactly short on corrupt bastards either. Italy's are just more photogenic.)

Incidentally, the UK is also a net importer of energy now. It used to export quite a bit, but the most easily accessible natural gas fields in the North Sea have been used up and the British are now reliant on imports.

Unlike the Italians, the Brits have been profligate with their energy for generations and it's going to be a big wrench when they face the brownouts and power cuts that their ageing power infrastructure is going to force on them. The country will lose over 25% of its generation capacity within a decade and there's no sign of any new stations being ready in time to replace them.

Part of the current crisis is that multiple problems are hitting at the same time, creating a runaway cascade effect. The banks failed to do their duty. Those failures have soaked up a lot of the cash governments had intended to use for other projects that would have helped grow their respective economies. With so little money now available to grease the economic machinery, we're getting multiple seizures as the machinery jams repeatedly.

There was insufficient redundancy and resilience designed into the system. The system is therefore tearing itself apart and what we're seeing are increasingly desperate measures to keep it from breaking down completely. People—particularly politicians—naturally resist change, so wholesale replacement of the system is never considered. Instead, it's endless patch and mend, resulting in increasing bloat and poor performance.

Sound familiar?

If you think Italy's economy is going to be "donkey powered" soon, perhaps you should consider the fact that Italians are much more self-sufficient than most Brits. They're already used to living a low-energy-consumption lifestyle. They were using low-power lighting long before the concept became fashionable elsewhere. Not because they wanted to, but because they had to. Theirs is an economy of "micro-businesses" (yes, that term really does exist); there are almost no chain stores here. It's all family businesses. Their High Streets still have traditional butchers, grocers, you name it.

They'll be picking themselves up far more quickly than the British will, because they won't have anywhere near as far to fall.

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Boffin

Re: Fast charging

In the US, where we use 110 V supply at about 16 amps, we get 1.5 kW max output from normal outlet. Most of the world uses 230V but Canada, US, Japan and few others use half that at a higher frequency. I believe Europe cycles at 50 Hz, where we use a 60 Hz frequency.

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Re: Fast charging

"Erm, batteries store power in DC form and the electricity grid is AC. You would need a huge inefficient DC to AC converter to send the electricity back to the grid."

That doesn't seem to have prevented householders up and down the country from installing solar panels on the roofs under the promise of selling power to the grid, breaking even financially after 50 years or something.

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Thumb Up

Re: Eastenders and Corrie

You are spot on there. Many years ago I did some work for the CEGB and this was part of the discussions. They used the Radio Times as a planning tool for load calculations. The spikes are enormous but they cope.

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Joke

Re: Fast charging

Now if only we knew in advance where & when lightening would strike... To the town hall Marty, I have a plan for the flux capacitor!

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