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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  1. Richard Boyce

    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.

    1. vagabondo
      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.

      1. Crisp Silver badge
        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?

    2. LaeMing Silver badge
      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.

    3. LarsG
      Meh

      And

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

    4. Steve Todd
      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.

      1. Mips
        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--

        1. spodula

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            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.

          2. pklong

            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,

            1. Stoneshop Silver badge

              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.

        2. Def Silver badge

          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.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Fast charging

            3kW is normal in Italy.

            1. ZanzibarRastapopulous

              Re: Fast charging

              > 3kW is normal in Italy.

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

              1. 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.

                1. daveeff
                  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!

              2. DAN*tastik

                @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 :)

              3. 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.

                1. Giles Jones Gold badge

                  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.

                  1. Stoneshop Silver badge
                    FAIL

                    Re: Fast charging

                    @Giles Jones

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

                  2. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
                    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.

                    1. Anonymous Coward
                      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.

                  3. Chris 151

                    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.

                    1. rich2201

                      Re: Fast charging

                      At current prices, breakeven is 5 to 7 years.

                      Oh, that inefficient power inverter is 95% efficient.

              4. Sean Timarco Baggaley
                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.

                1. Hans 1 Silver badge
                  Coat

                  Re: Fast charging

                  Ahhh, you know the FIAT acronym as well ! "Fehler In Allen Teilen" German for "All Parts Are Faulty" - I love Matchbox replicas of Fiats, because in the real world, the cars act like matches - not only the Ferrari's! Fiat Bravo's and Brava's seem to catch fire as easily as the old original Pandas.

                  I know, a bit off-topic, but I would not praise a country for having a junk-manufacturer like Fiat.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            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.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            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.

          4. Marshalltown
            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.

        3. Tom 38 Silver badge
          FAIL

          @Mips

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

          1. Chris Miller

            @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.

            1. jonathanb Silver badge

              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.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                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.

          2. itzman

            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.

          3. Tom 11
            Trollface

            Re: @Mips

            Christ mate, I wouldn't go parading that infront of your peers. wtf is it? Looks like tweakys little brother or something. Why the hell do you need a fucking flashing kettle? Do you stand and watch it boil? Or do you get it out at christmas and strap it to your tree?

            Aside from that, how can you ever apply the label of 'sylish' to a kettle? I bet you're one of those sorts who has a musical door bell aren't you?

            ;)

        4. Anonymous Coward
          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!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fast charging

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

      3. itzman
        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

        1. h 2

          Re: Fast charging

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

      4. WatAWorld

        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.

    5. Roger Greenwood
      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.

    6. DrXym Silver badge

      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.

      1. itzman

        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.

      2. ravenviz
        Pirate

        Re: Fast charging

        *sigh*

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

        1. Jtom Bronze badge

          Re: Fast charging

          There are already proposals to make it mandatory to have 'black boxes' on cars that will report how many miles you drive. The info will then be used to send you a tax bill based on the number of miles you drove. Everyone will pay that tax. Gas/diesel vehicles will still pay fuel taxes. Those with electric vehicles will still have the regular electricity usage tax on their electric bills.The governments consider us nothing but slaves. We should send them all of our incomes and they will decide what we are allowed to do or to have

      3. Jtom Bronze badge

        Re: Fast charging

        You're ignoring the need of a vast, new transmission infrastructure to distribute that amount of power to "charging points", plus the need for power plant ungrades to handle the increased loads. Sure, it can be done, but at what cost? Theoretically, electric vehicles would reduce pollution, but the truth is it mainly shifts where the pollution is created, from individual cars to power plants. When you factor in the pollution created in building the new transmission lines and power plant upgrades, you don't really see a net improvement in the environment for centuries. By that time we may have evolved wings and be flying.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      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!

      1. Pet Peeve
        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.

        1. Jtom Bronze badge

          Re: Fast charging

          You are completely missing the rest of the transmission network. Your tranformer is tapped into the same transmission lines as many other transformers. You are all sharing the same power carried on the transmission lines from the power plant. Simply take the total number of users/houses/businesses/schools/etc. being served and divide it by the total amount of power being generated, and you will get the small numbers being reported. As long as we don't all try to use a great deal of power at once, it works. If many people tried to quick-charge their car at the same time, it won't work. In many places, if more that 40% of the people turn on their air conditioners, the grid fails. We are all on a 'shared network'.

    8. Elmer Phud Silver badge

      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.

      1. Robert Sneddon
        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.

    9. Miek
      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

    10. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fast charging

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

    11. h 2
      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.

    12. frank 3
      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....

      1. jonathanb Silver badge

        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.

      2. Jtom Bronze badge

        Re: Fast charging

        Re the 1905 comment. An electric car make as much sense as a gasoline-powered horse. If people could only duplicate what could be done with a single horse, we would still be riding on real horses. There would be no new infrastructure simply to replace a horse. Now if the innovation could replace a great many horses with one 'contraption', then you have something. If it can go faster, further, and carry more than horses, you have something. What can an electric vehicle do that a gas/diesel vehicle can not?

  2. Esskay
    Meh

    Waiting for the fine print...

    ie. the type of stuff that normally accompanies these "breakthroughs":

    *Batteries will make production sometime in the next 40 years

    *Batteries will cost 10x that of conventional batteries

    *Batteries are unable to be mass produced

    For the time being I'm in the "meh" camp on this one - too many times have we been told to get excited about the new amazing battery tech about to be released only for it to disappear into the dark abyss of the internet cache files & forum archives...

    As noted in the article, there are *many* issues facing battery tech as a replacement for petrol engines in cars, charge time being just one - and the industry is still undecided on the best way to tackle the issue ("quick change" battery packs? high voltage home charge stations? changes to the batteries for quicker charge, but with higher prices?) let alone whether battery power is worth pursuing at all (hydrogen has one big issue, storage, but once solved is abundant, refill times are close to conventional fossil fuels, and it can be integrated into existing infrastructure).

    1. Dave 150

      Re: Waiting for the fine print...

      what about the other little problem hydrogen has, distribution?

      1. Stoneshop Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: Waiting for the fine print...

        Hydrogen can be used, together with carbon (liberated from CO2, for example) to create those luvverly hydrocarbons with their high energy-density, for which the infrastructure is utterly available without any modifications. What you need for this, beside the actual ingredients, is energy.

  3. Grikath Silver badge

    Fast discharge as well?

    From the look of it ( damn paywall...:( ) they've managed to find a way to vastly improve surface area in the battery itself, which should also mean a superior discharge rate as well. barring heat effects and other sundries.

    Maybe something in between a battery and a supercapacitor? That would indeed give possibilities as a "secondary battery" either in full electric or hybrid systems. This may turn out the be really interesting.

    As far as "extremely high power levels" is concerned as mr. Boyce mentioned.... Ever looked, and I mean *looked* at the power consumption of an electric stove at full burn?

    It's easy enough to build a charger that can handle that power, and it wouldn't even need changing your electrical infrastructure in the home.

    Hell you can even make it "smart" and check for load, so you can plug in and cook your meal without blowing your fuses, and fire up to full load when you're asleep. The shortened charge time would mean you'd have full charge well before you'd get up again the next morning.

    If this thing is actually viable, the rest of the engineering is *easy* .

    1. Ole Juul Silver badge

      Re: Fast discharge as well?

      Maybe something in between a battery and a supercapacitor? That would indeed give possibilities as a "secondary battery" either in full electric or hybrid systems. This may turn out the be really interesting.

      One might call it a "buffer" battery, to put it in IT terms. I like the idea of being able to have power bursts available while the main battery can be designed with other desirable qualities in mind.

    2. Real Ale is Best
      Boffin

      Re: Fast discharge as well?

      <blockquote>As far as "extremely high power levels" is concerned as mr. Boyce mentioned.... Ever looked, and I mean *looked* at the power consumption of an electric stove at full burn?</blockquote>

      Modern electric showers consume even more than cookers nowadays. A quick survey would suggest 10.8kW is the highest available.

      Also, most modern house supplies (UK) are fused at 80Amps which would suggest 19kW is available.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fast discharge as well?

        I thought modern houses were fused at 100 Amps?

        Well all the ones I've lived in have had that minimum...

        1. Ragarath

          Re: Fast discharge as well?

          Would this also mean that things like regeneative breaking are able to put more back into the battery?

          I am not sure (read that as not read up on) if there were limitations before but could this offer improvements to other aspects of an electric car like breaking as mentioned?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "breaking"

            What use would it be if it were broken?

            1. Danny 14 Silver badge
              Stop

              Re: "breaking"

              I love the clueless people downvoting mips.

              Think of it like broadband FTTC. Sure the cabinet has 80Mb sat there all nice and pretty. Then 100 local houses sit on the network all night solid (downloading perfectly legal torrents and or linux distributions or possibly flash updates). I wonder how much of that pipe you will see, probably a lot less than the 40mb you were sold on.

              The same goes for electricity. Sure you can load your small house with 60A and possibly even for 5 hours whilst charging your car overnight. Again get 100 people in your local area/street to do exactly the same and i'll bet brownouts start occurring. Or the substation goes pop.

              Mips was saying 2kw is the AVERAGE loading when the nat grid calculates housing requirements.

          2. ian 22

            Regenerative braking

            Good point! Regen braking would capture far more energy with these batteries.

            In the 1970s I converted a knackered old Karmann Ghia to electric power, using a surplus 120v aircraft generator/motor and 10 automotive lead-acid batteries. It had regenerative braking (in addition to the usual kind) recharging the batteries. However, as automobile batteries are not designed for fast charge/discharge cycles, dumping hundreds of amps into them brought them to a boil right smartly. The auto constantly smelled of acid and the batteries failed within a few months.

            These new batteries likely could absorb the power but they would also require a bit of cooling.

        2. itzman

          Re: Fast discharge as well?

          60 or 100 A is the norm in my experience.

          My feeder cable is only rated at 100A.

          Id need to go 3ph to get more power

          1. Richard Altmann
            Meh

            Re: Fast discharge as well?

            Standard in Germany is 3 Phase a´ 63A for a one family house.

            When the standard in UK is one phase, that would mean you have to run a 10mm² wire to your electric cooker and a least 16mm² to your fast water heater. Do i understand that right?

            1. Martin an gof Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: Fast discharge as well?

              > Standard in Germany is 3 Phase a´ 63A for a one family house.

              > When the standard in UK is one phase, that would mean you have to run a 10mm² wire to your electric cooker

              > and a least 16mm² to your fast water heater. Do i understand that right?

              The key word in this part of the discussion that everyone is missing is "diversity" it is "diversity" (or in internet access terms, "contention") that allows individual ratings to total more than the supply is capable of delivering. I'm not sure if 2kW allowance per household is still the case in the UK - I suspect that it is a bit higher than that now, but it is certainly not the 20-odd kW per house that houses with 100A main fuses *could* suck because it is pointless putting that sort of infrastructure in when it will *never* be used.

              Standard cable for a cooker (oven, 4 rings, attached socket) in this country is 6mm² which is protected with a 32A MCB (7.3kW @ 230V). It is assumed that everything is thermostatically controlled (so switches on and off all the time) and is not turned on at exactly the same time. Diversity allows 5A for an attached "13A" socket. A 32A MCB will take *minutes* to trip at a small overload - I don't have the tables to hand, but I think it is something like 5 minutes at 36A. Under some circumstances normal 6mm² "twin and earth" can be used under a 40A MCB, which deals with nearly all cookers, and for the others yes, 10mm² would be used.

              "Fast water heaters" are not common in this country. Most people will heat domestic hot water using gas or another burnable fuel, and those that don't will use one or possibly two 3kW immersion heaters in the cylinder (ignoring solar).

              Showers up to 7kW (not common these days) are wired in 6mm² cable while other showers (11.5kW is not uncommon) use 10mm². Diversity does not apply to "instantaneous water heaters". However, my advice (when I used to do the electricianing) was always that electric showers should be the last resort. If you have a cylinder full of hot water, use that instead. If you have a "combi" boiler it will be rated at 24kW or more - it will be able to heat at least twice as much water as an electric shower, and more cheaply as gas is *still* about a quarter the price of electricity per kWh delivered.

              To other commentators - UK houses are almost without exception single phase 230V. Older premises have a 60A "service cutout" (main fuse that belongs to the supply company), a few are 80A and most modern houses (since the late 1980s probably) are 100A. All modern switchgear assumes 100A and more than 100A single phase is not (as far as I'm aware) available domestically. You would certainly have trouble finding a domestic consumer unit ("fuseboard") with more than a 100A main switch and 100A-rated busbars.

              M.

    3. itzman

      Re: Fast discharge as well?

      High discharge rates are not a problem.

      Model aircraft boys will fully discharge a battery in less than 3 minutes achieving power density figures similar to a jet engine on afterburn. I think I calculated the limit several years ago for the entire airframe and power train at something like 500W/per lb. Compared with say a Spitfire which flew at about 120W/lb.

      What that means in car terms is something like 1500bhp per ton of car. That is formula one power levels. though sadly only for 3 minutes.

  4. G R Goslin

    Still a problem

    Even if the boffins solution really works, it will make little difference to the problem of fast charging. All it will do is to push the problem further down (or up) the line. The electrical equivlent of filling your tank with petrol, is in the order of megawatts. To get electrical charge rates anywhere neat this, is near impossible, not only from the equipment point of view, but from the effects of the wildly changing loads on the supply network.

    1. Grikath Silver badge

      Re: Still a problem

      Only if you insist on giving full charge to your battery in the same time as it takes you to fill a tank with gas, which is , frankly, comparing apples and pears.

      The trick is to make charge times short enough to make both (slow) home-charging, and (fast) exchange-depot charging a viable option on a large scale, at which point you *can* create the power infrastructure needed, and "topping up" becomes as fast as filling your tank now, since you'll simply exchange the battery pack, and let the station do the loading.

      A fast loading time for an exchange station is crucial, since the faster the cells load, the less buffer battery packs a station needs, which vastly reduces overhead and costs.

    2. itzman

      Re: Still a problem

      Absolutely true. A ' petrol' station would be a major substation with an appallingly high peak load - this is electric train territory in terms of the numbers.

      It IS doable, but not simply or easily or cheaply. BUT the flip side is it is not actually that necessary. Most people doing - say - a supermarket trip would park up at tescos, and plug in, for a one hour charge or equivalent. Or go to the office car park and charge there, or at a municipal lampost overnight.

      With a tankful of electricity being somewhere in the £5-£20 mark* you might as well keep it 'topped up'

      Only people doing long runs on a motorway need that 5 minute flat to full charge.

      *until the government realises its losing all its tax revenue

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: Still a problem

        It also makes "bank swap" of batteries feasible. Especially if done at dealerships which have fast charge network capability.

  5. Stuart Halliday
    Facepalm

    Be nice to have consumer batteries for phones, tablets, etc. that charge faster too. But this announcement just means *if* it scales up to industrial level it'll be 10 years before we see it in action sadly.

  6. Real Ale is Best
    Flame

    It's all very well being able to push a high charging current into the battery, but how will you deal with the heat produced?

    Conventional batteries get pretty hot when charged as it is.

    1. vagabondo

      By lowering the internal resistance of the electrodes, the amount of heat produced for a given charging current may be less than with a conventional construction.

    2. itzman

      car engines get pretty hot when running.

      I believe they use fans.

      And the whole point of fast charge batteries is that they DONT get hot.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Childcatcher

    Would be nice if Dr Cho perhaps stopped touting new features of his amazing battery tech and focus more on building it?

    In 2008 he was already claiming a breakthrough in energy storage with this graphene tech, applied for patents and said commercial production would follow in 4 to 5 years.

    The only change so far however seems to be that he moved to another university.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Quick!

    Before Apple patent it!

    1. g e

      Re: Quick!

      I should imagine a chap from Samsung has already popped round to say 'Hi', being Korean 'n all

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Quick!

        Well well well, add imperialistic pig to "g e"'s attributes (nothing new, his employer google already enjoys dictating their own rules to the world)

        Obviously! they wouldn't say Hi, they would say 안녕.

    2. Ali on the Reg

      Re: Quick!

      Apple will have registered several years ago a rough sketch accompanied by a description like 'battery that charges faster'

  9. Silverburn
    Happy

    It's the year 2020...

    ...and 5pm on Friday. Everyone hops in their electric cars for the drive home.

    5:30, the grid goes down, as 100,000 cars plug in for a fast charge at home.

    The grind stays down all weekend, while EDF spend the 48 hrs replacing all the overheads which have all melted.

    In other news: The UK's reported electric consumption and CO2 production met targets in 2020, because everyone now walks to work. In the dark.

    1. HMB

      Re: It's the year 2020...

      It's ok, by 2020 the green lobby will have successfully campaigned against all meaningful forms of power anyway :P

    2. Falanx
      Mushroom

      Re: It's the year 2020...

      And thanks to EC/197/2006, there'll be no useable engineering materials nor chemicals to make anything with at all.

      1. TomChaton
        Joke

        Re: It's the year 2020...

        EC/197/2006...No officer with false teeth should attempt oral sex in zero gravity?

      2. Hans 1 Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: It's the year 2020...

        I sometimes wonder why we passed that law, since we are saving idiots left, right and center that our gene pool could do without, like you, sir....

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Silverburn re: melted cables

      Have you heard of something called an MCB? Or even a fuse?

      Those were invented to prevent just that problem. They've been doing a fairly decent job for a hundred years or so.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: @ Silverburn re: melted cables

        MCBs tend not to work well in the mega amp range. substation fuses look like good old king dick adjustable spanners too.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wasn't this done before?

    I remember reading last year about a British firm that had already done this. The vision was installing three phase chargers at fuel stations that could charge your car just as quick as filling with fuel.

    Of course, my memory could have.. um... who am I again?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Wasn't this done before?

      This is an almost exact replica of Stanford's research into nanowire batteries:

      http://news.stanford.edu/news/2008/january9/nanowire-010908.html

      Some Korean professor copying stuff? Now where I have seen that before..

  11. Mickey Finn
    Facepalm

    Electric Cars bad...

    This is really interesting news, it was only a couple of days back, that I read that battery technology was the slowest developing with very little change in the technology since the 1960s... The idea of fast charging, long lasting lithium ion batteries is brilliant...

    However, I would have thought that he last place to use these would be in personal transport.

    What is "green" about using a fuel that is produced miles away, and loses strength the further it travels from its source? Surely it is better to buy gas (petrol/diesel/lpg) in a filling station, and wait until electricity can be reliably generated in the car, which of course the Toyota Pious does quite well.

    1. Fading Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Electric Cars bad...

      I know - how about having a Diesel generator at home for charging the electric car?

      1. Miek
        Coat

        Re: Electric Cars bad...

        Why not put it in the car instead and call it a Hybrid?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Electric Cars bad...

        That's still actually more efficient than using a combustion engine for locomotion. That's why freight trains, container ships, etc. these days are generally powered by electric motors which are in turn powered by a diesel generator.

        1. Chris Miller

          @AC 09:28

          Electric transmission is significantly less efficient than a direct mechanical drive. It's just that we can't manufacture the latter to handle the multi-thousand horsepower engines found in ships and locos.

          1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

            Re: @AC 09:28

            Nope. Not even close, if by "direct mechanical drive" you mean internal combustion firing pistons to move a crankshaft.

            Electric motor is typically about 80% efficient. Obviously there are other losses generating the electricity from ??? in the first place, plus losses distributing that to the battery, but that's a different issue, as is the energy required to refine oil to petrol and drive it about the country in tankers.

            Internal combustion engine is about 20% efficient.

            See http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/evtech.shtml, http://www.stanford.edu/group/greendorm/participate/cee124/TeslaReading.pdf or just google "electric motor efficiency".

            1. Chris Miller

              @AC 16:43

              You're right, but that isn't what we're talking about. The OP (09:28) was saying that ships and locos use diesel-electric drive (an on-board diesel generator powering electricity motors) for efficiency. They don't - they use it because a direct mechanical drive would break under the stress, this is particularly true for rail locos where gearing is needed. A direct mechanical link from the engine to the wheels/propeller would be significantly more efficient, eliminating the conversion losses involved, and some high-power diesel locos use hydraulic transmission (similar to an automatic gearbox in a car) but this is mechanically challenging and therefore more expensive to maintain.

    2. Mickey Finn
      WTF?

      Re: Electric Cars bad...

      I notice people didn't like that... Well to make things worse those same people aren't going to like this:

      In addition to those previous comments, I do not think that it is a good idea to hand total control of the production and distribution of auto fuel (or any other type) to a single central authority like government or giant corporate. If I have to rely on the national grid for my transport fix and suddenly one day, that grid runs dry...

      Sounds unlikely, but by 2015 we will not be permitted to run coal powered stations (without paying a huge fine), we won't have the benefit of most of the remaining nuke plants (maybe Sizewell B), we will still be deeply prejudiced against shale gas, and (as nobody has ever predicted :) ) the wind turbine contribution will still be in the less than 10s of percents, the French will be at their limits as to what they can ship to us from their nuke plants... and our lights will start to go out.

      And you people think that it is a good idea to convert to cars that run on fuel delivered in this way????

      1. GitMeMyShootinIrons

        Re: Electric Cars bad...

        So, assuming every car moves to batteries, we will need:

        - massive increases in electricity generation. Bearing in mind this is already an issue, whacking cars on top is a problem. Solution - build nukes....

        - batteries. These are going to be needed continually in massive numbers (complex lithium ion at that). How much energy and resources does it take to make and ship these? What is the environmental impact of making them?

        - home transformers or stations. We'll need lots (good job opportunities...), as, even with rapid charging, the range of most vehicles still suck. Trains work by pulling power externally - battery cars can't really do this.

        Forgive my cynicism, but I don't think we're there yet. Hydrogen might be an option, but battery cars? Not so sure.

      2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

        Re: Electric Cars bad...

        Jesus Christ Mickey, our current cars run on oil. OIL. You may have heard of it, most of the gepolitics of the last 40 years have been based around our planet scrapping over it.

        1. Mickey Finn

          Re: Electric Cars bad...

          What's that got to do with the price of a pound of bananas?

          Apart of course from the fact that we generate electricity and run internal combustion engines with it...

          The point is this... Every time you convert energy into another form, some gets converted into something that we currently have no use for... We call it waste. There is less waste produced from an engine that burns the oil directly... If they one day find a way of compressing and storing extracted hydrogen efficiently, cheaply and safely, we will probably have a good replacement for the current internal combustion engine, the compressed hydrogen being burned to drive a turbine of course.

          1. Marcelo Rodrigues
            Happy

            Re: Electric Cars bad...

            Not quite.

            Yes, we have losses at every transformation of energy. But there is one thing You forgot to consider: efficiency.

            You see, a petrol car engine is uses about 20% of the fuel energy - the rest is waste.

            BUT (there is always a "but"...) A stationary generator is much more efficient, close to 50%. Mind, I am not talking about a 2kW portable generator. I am talking about huge thermoelectric stations.

            Yes, You may be right, regardless. I didn't run the numbers, so even with this difference the petrol car MAY be more efficient. But the math is not so straightforward...

      3. johnnytruant

        Re: Electric Cars bad...

        "I do not think that it is a good idea to hand total control of the production and distribution of auto fuel (or any other type) to a single central authority like government or giant corporate."

        News just in - probably too late to be worrying about that. Saudi Aramco are the world's largest company, they control a significant amount of the oil market. They are the giantest of the giant corporates. Personally I'd rather be in thrall to the French or Norwegians for electricity than to the House of Saud for oil.

        1. Mickey Finn

          Re: Electric Cars bad...

          Be my guest.

  12. Gordon Pryra
    Mushroom

    Death Rays?

    Sod the cars, with the speed these things should be able to discharge, surly we are one step closer to the pinnacle of civilization.

    The hand held death ray

  13. Brian Miller 1

    There is a problem that is a corollary to fast charge...

    It is the fast DISCHARGE of the battery. In the event of a short circuit they tend to explode rather than just catch fire. This coupled with normal protection mechanisms not working in those circumstances (too slow) can really put a downer on someones day (life).

    But hey, a short circuit can't happen in a car crash.... oh wait.

  14. Francis Boyle Silver badge

    On the up side

    Hollywood won't have to give up its addiction to exploding cars.

  15. Tom 7 Silver badge

    Changeable units.

    I can change the battery in my torch in about 2 seconds and get the old ones on to recharge.

    Now if we have standard sized batteries we could just swap them out and then the garage can recharge the old one at leisure. Or you can charge it in situ yourself overnight.

    OK that would take simple standards but the car industry seems to be able to make cars with or without curved bits though queueing at iGarages might be seem as a cool thing to do.

    1. Danny 14 Silver badge

      Re: Changeable units.

      swapping AA batteries at the "battery station" should be fun with a ford focus.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    lossy batteries

    Let's say the problem of quick recharging is close to be solved. The other big problems with electro-chemical batteries are:

    a) their capacity changes with outside temperature and age

    b) the charge is lost faster or slower depending on their age and (daily) temperature cycles, in a couple of days you may remain with 5-10% of it.

    So you charge it one evening (or night) at -10Celsius, and you actually pour less in it than at +20Celsius. You leave it for a week, the charge may be gone. One would say no big deal, but this is now, before the price of electricity goes up many times. Who pays for that? And you may not be able to recharge it every night.

    Right now I can fill the tank and the gas (petrol) is still there the next couple of days (minus some evaporation) and I can still use it for the weekend.

    Electric cars may be good for some people in California, or Spain, not so much in cold, humid places... and yet in California or Spain or Greece they may need air conditioning, again from batteries.

    Not good in Winnipeg, or Melbourne, or Petersburg,

    I worked in designing electric cars, and there is still a lot of work before we have something as real life convenient as the actual thermal engines.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lossy batteries

      ...Me again. Where the electric solution seems to work is in some hybrid cars, where they actually have an "electric flywheel" to store braking energy. Some locomotives also use supercapacitors and it seems to save some energy, it's a good beginning.

      On the other hand, I was reading that Prius has an excellent aerodynamic (something like Cd=0.25 says wikipedia) so they did everithing they could to reduce mechanical losses and improve range.

  17. Danny 14 Silver badge

    super bomb

    Another good idea would be to have a catalyst hydrogen generation plant in your car. Use the battery for powering the car and the catalyst hydrogen plant to charge it. Then if you have a crash you have the potential to REALLY cause some fireworks.

  18. Paul0987
    Angel

    Paul

    Does this mean I will need to a High Voltage Ticket or a Sparky to fill my car up.

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: Paul

      Or two giant 4 inch diameter solid copper pipes to carry the necessary current at 220V.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Flow batteries

    I thought this was a good idea:

    http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2011/flow-batteries-0606.html

  20. Aitor 1 Silver badge

    mm interesting

    I see that houeses in the UK have huge power allowances!!

    Here in Spain, i have 20A, at 220v (soon to be 230v) = 4400W, 4,4KW. This is normal for a modern, air conditioned flat (85m2).

    My brother has a house, and double the power: 8,8 KW.

    Worst of all: here in Spain, you PAY for rated power!! in my case, I pay 6 pounds a month for the "privilege". Having double the power almost triples the cost.

    As for distributing so much power in such short time, the solution is clear: Do not use 240volts.. use (as an example) 1000volts, and assume 5 minutes to charge the battery from 20% to 100% (batteries are not going to be flat!!).

    Look here: http://www.destockable.fr/index.php/amperage-section-monophase

    You will need arround 12 CM cables.( and they don't need to be solid inside!!) Add insulation and you will havo to reconsider: better insulation and 4000volts, or 10 minutes, that will get you 6cm cables, we can ive with that.

    As for peak power ussage, it won't be that big. Not at all, and it would be smaller if you use higher intensity (you can google it).

    Would power grids and stations need to be upgraded? OF COURSE. But that is no problem, we will be switching from petrol based products to a mix of uranium, coal, wind, etc.

    Note: my car runs on gas (LPG). It takes some 4-5 mins to fill the tank, and I have almost no problem with that.

  21. Aitor 1 Silver badge

    Another thing..

    As for from self discharge, my understanding is that the problem has more to do with the separator.. at least in NiMh batteries.. so no problem here.

    But, just imagine that they improve the batteries so they are 95% efficient at charging. And you charge the 60Kw battery in 10 minutes (remember, you just charge 40KW, it isn't empty).

    You would get the heat of a 120KW heater. This is: FIRE!! Your car would be in flames in a blink of an eye.. ant the solution could be to add a high destilled water recirculation hose to cool the car battery. A bit dangerous...

    And, as for the carbon circuits, carbon conductors burn out over time, as owners of petrol cars that have carbon spark cables know... (or should know).

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: Another thing..

      Aitor 1, I missed that consideration of fire. You're right. So even the idea of slowly charging a stationary battery in charger in order to speed charge the mobile battery in the vehicle is unworkable due to excess heat (even in Northern Canada in winter).

      I'm certain this article is based on bogus PR crap aimed at luring in retail investors for something that is a great idea for $30 laptop batteries, but completely unworkable for $9,000 vehicle batteries.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And another thing

    What about the size of cable to deliver that power? It'd need to be nearly as thick as my cock

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I thought this was around years ago.

    I told a mate of my idea to have thousands of small batteries in parallel, charged through an array of diodes, and discharged in series, and he said it had already been thought of. This must have been 1984-ish.

    However the problem comes when you try to charge them. Where do you find a power supply to provide the current, and how do you get rid of the heat?

  24. G R Goslin

    Nothing new here, please move along

    There' nothing new in this Edison was doing the same thing with his Nickel-Iron batteries before 1900. He had somewhat the same problem, of getting the charge into and out of his batteries. he solved by adding incredibly small, thin flakes of nickel to the mix. One thing that didn't come out in the article, was that the same factor is of consequence in discharge as well as charge. It has the opportunity to tun a short circuit, internal or external to turn an innstant melt down to bomb proportions.

  25. Zmodem

    you could charge the car up once, and add dynamos to all 4 wheels and the differential, and always be charging up the batteries while moving

    1. WatAWorld

      You could drive in reverse

      You could drive in reverse, store the power you generate, and sell it back to the electrical utility company.

    2. This post has been deleted by its author

  26. WatAWorld

    480 Amp service panels? No, you'd charge the chargerthen dump energy that into the vehicle

    Me thinks the press release was written to target investors ignorant of all things electric.

    For any given voltage, to go from 60 A over 8 hours to 1 hour means 480 A.

    In North America a 240V 200 A service panel is the largest in common use for homes, with 240V 100A being the most common.

    I do not think there is even a standard wiring for 480A at 120 or 240V even in commercial installations, I think you have to go to a higher voltage and step it down so you have manageable size wires.

    So you'll need voltages coming into the building at something well over 240V, 7,000V is common.

    To be practical you'd need to store the charge in batteries in the vehicle charger over (say) 8 hours, and then charge the vehicle by dumping the stored charge in the charger into the vehicle.

    So 2 sets of fancy expensive batteries.

    But still, this will be good for charging laptops, telephones, remote controls and other small devices.

    1. WatAWorld

      Re: 480 Amp service panels? No, you'd charge the chargerthen dump energy that into the vehicle

      By North American safety standards, at 7,000V you must keep yourself 2m (6ft) from surfaces at that voltage. That means tools with 3m (9ft) fiberglass handles, rubber gloves and rubber boots, and a pass mark on exam given at the completion of the safety course.

      There are exceptions allowing 1m clearance, but that is another longer course, and only for emergencies and requires considerable approvals. Plugging your car in is not an emergency.

      1. Aitor 1 Silver badge

        Re: 480 Amp service panels? No, you'd charge the chargerthen dump energy that into the vehicle

        I agree with you.. I think it is quite dangerous to user more than 1000volts.

  27. Alan Brown Silver badge

    y'all assume

    That most people will be able to charge their car at home.

    A huge number of city dwellers can't. Not without rigging some kind of power cord over the pavement.

    Electric filling stations are a requirement for mass acceptance where elecetric vehicles are needed most (urban areas) and if we're going to have to refuel more often it'd better be faster and more convenient to do than it is now. (I can see charging points being common in carparks and I can also see vandals taking great delight in messing up cables/sockets)

    Of course, if the smart self-driving vehicle comes to pass then I'll happily settle for JohnnyCab and let it sort its fuelling out on its own.

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