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Future electric cars could charge in 10 minutes

By Alison Hunt

Battery breakthrough brings possibility of rapid-charging a step closer

A revolutionary way to charge electric car batteries that could give drivers a cruise range of 200 miles after just 10 minutes of charging, has been devised by scientists at Pennsylvania State University.

The lithium ion batteries used in electric cars can store huge amounts of energy in a relatively small cell. However, their lengthy charging periods, coupled with ranges of just a few hundred miles leaves many drivers fearing they will run out of charge mid-journey and be stuck waiting for their car to recharge. Even a supercharger will take 40 minutes to charge a Tesla Model S from flat battery to 80 per cent.

Dr Chao-Yang Wang, a professor at Penn State hopes to change this with his rapid-charging technology.

In the past, scientists found that lithium ions are inclined to form plate-like deposits on the negative electrode’s surface, which shortens the battery’s life.

However, Dr Wang and his team believed that if a battery was heated to a temperature too high for lithium plating to form and kept there, rapid charging could occur. They found that by heating a battery to 60 degrees Celsius and then cooling to room temperature, the battery could be charged to 80 per cent. The process took just ten minutes and caused no damage to the battery, even when done repeatedly.

This technology could be used for electric cars where an 80 per cent charge would provide a cruise range of between 200-300 miles.

Dr Wang believes this simple and elegant technology could change the way we use electric cars, telling the Guardian; “If we have a ubiquitous fast-charging infrastructure on the roadside, drivers need no longer to worry about the cruise range. After driving 200-300 miles per charge, one can pick up another 200-300 miles by charging for 10 minutes.”

But it will take several years of development and testing before we can buy fast-charging electric vehicles.

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