New Nanomaterial Could Dramatically Speed Plug-in Vehicle Charging

· · 7 years ago

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed what they believe could be a solution to one of the fundamental challenges facing advanced vehicle battery engineers: increasing power and reducing charge times without creating additional anode wear, which depletes the energy storage of a battery and the range of an electric vehicle.

One of the major limitations of anode materials is that they break down as ions are transferred to and from their surface during charge and discharge. Using rows of stacked nanoparticles, the RPI team was able to create an anode capable of withstanding 40 to 60 times the power of currently available lithium ion batteries through 100 complete charge cycles—without showing significant signs of degradation.

What could this mean for electric vehicles, laptops, cell phones and other products that are powered by lithium ion batteries? While the technology is still far from being adapted for market—and construction or cost issues could ultimately stifle its viability—the new anode material could one day cut charging times to minutes on the hour.

The key to the RPI nanomaterial is its added surface area, which results mostly from an expanded scoop-shaped layer of silicon that reduces stress from incoming and outgoing ions.


In addition to the basic charging advantages, there are other potential bonuses associated with the new material.

Current electric vehicle batteries rely on supercapacitors to perform more power-intense functions, but “nanoscoops” could one day render them unnecessary, since all power requirements could be met by the battery itself. Researchers are also hopeful that the nanostructures could one day be “grown” onto flexible structures that can be molded to fit the curves and space limitations of electric vehicles.

Though researchers have studied nanotechnology in an effort to improve batteries in the past, this latest breakthrough seems to be a bit more promising by comparison—if not in its prospects for making it to market, then at least in its theoretical potential.


· · 7 years ago

"...capable of withstanding 40 to 60 times the power of currently available lithium ion batteries..."

Which won't really help reduce charging times until power outlets that can deliver 40 to 60 times the power become available... which is firmly in the *megawatts* range. This is great for discharge rates or smaller devices, but EVs pack too much energy to be safely/practically recharged much faster than they already are, since the limiting factor is the power source, not the battery.

· · 7 years ago

Correct, Smidge! Yeah, we hear this all the time. "Super fast EV charging just around the corner!"

Hell, we can already charge fast if we can find a way to dump all that power into the car. We're having trouble deploying 50 kW chargers (only one in the US that I know of right now). Speed of charging isn't the problem! Give me a real breakthrough in cost and capacity and we'll have something to talk about!

Now if this neat new thing also translates into more cycles before failure, then it's all good.

· Alexei (not verified) · 7 years ago

A battery with quick charge and quick discharge with more cycles, this baby could help smoothing the electricity production as a perfect:
1. energy storage for renewable electricity when the wind/sun/waves/see currents are in force and store it for times when they are not;
2. energy storage for gaz/coal/nuclear power plants that are in stand by mode (just spinning, when they are most inefficient) and wasting all that carbon/uranium.
All of the above could reduce carbon footprint for the EVs even if it does not make it into the car. If it does, there could be charging stations which have already stored extra energy on sight in similar batteries charged overnight or from available renewable. Also if you ever run out of juice far from a stationary charging point, a specially equipped road side assistance vehicle could quickly charge you, or another EV could do it.

· · 7 years ago

Oooooh...Could this possibly handle 1.21 gigawatts!?

· · 7 years ago

Excellent points, Alexei!

· John Aker (not verified) · 7 years ago

1.21 GIGAWATTS! Where will get that kind of power?....Maybe in 1985........but now?

· · 6 years ago

That looks like a lot of work. Drive electric and not worry about all of those tricks that are necessary to milk efficiency out of an ICE. The electric works pretty well all the time :-)
I definitely agree that fast charging could be a big game changer. The challenge, despite what battery researchers may say, is not with the battery's ability to accept a charge but, rather with power companies that want to make a big deal out of offering a high-power connection for EV charging. The bias against EV charging is unfair since building air conditioners and other industrial machinery do it all the time and the power companies have been dealing with it for nearly a century.

· Preeti (not verified) · 5 years ago

nanoparticlesare crystalline nano materials gives cyastal forms to nano products.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago

supercaps? I have a supercap in my dvd player, but in my tesla I have a plain old motorcycle battery.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago


I don't think your concern is going to be an issue since if these things get down in price, there will certainly be level 2 to level 3 charger machines built.

There are currently several level 1 to level 2 machines for sale.. They take in 1500 watts all day and dish out 7200 to charge the car.

On another blog I fully proved, at least to myself, the practicallity of a 150 kw L2 to L3 charger with a very small 100 amp @ 1500 volt cable going to the car. We went around and around on safety, and fault current, etc. These are not problems really.

The only kicker is the price of a 200 kwh battery in the unit itself. But this assumes that soon enough, a 200 kwh battery is not going to be that much money. So this takes care of the power company strain / demand charges, or for you solar people the necessity of only building a 7200 watt solar panel system per stall.

Then people criticized that 150 kw was not fast enough to charge up a big luxury SUV. (assuming the big SUV had a 130 kwh battery in it in the near future). I think its enough. If this is happening at a rest stop, or restaurant, people can sit down for an hour.

If someone wants to make a bigger one, fine do it.

P.S. The Level 2 rate of 7.2kw is not cast in granite. This assumes 150 kwh per day per charger. If a charger is only lightly used and only 2 model S's uses it per day, then its enough. If it is predicted that 4 model S's will use it the L2 rate can be increased to 15 kw, etc.

· · 5 years ago

@ Bill -

Supercaps in your DVD player? lead-acid in your Tesla? I'm not sure what you're seeing, but it isn't what the rest of the world is seeing.

· · 5 years ago

Yes, the Gen 2 and higher Tesla Roadsters have a Pb-A motorcycle battery, just like the RAV4EVs.

· · 5 years ago

And VCRs have supercaps?

I (apparently mistakenly) inferred that the suggestion was that the Roadster's traction power was coming from Pb-A.

And as an aside - while I'm not sure where the distinction is between car and motorcycle batteries, the Rav4EV certainly has a "car" Aux battery.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago


Yeah, some vcr's may just be new enough to have supercaps. they are like 3.3 volts at 2 farads (thats a huge capacitance). They are used in place of watch batteries in consumer appliances to hold time-of-day, stations, programming, etc when unplugged as an economy measure for the manufacturer.

Yeah I wasn't kidding. My Tesla Roadster has a 10 ampere-hour, PB-A battery underneath the right headlight, primarily so you can open up the electric doors with the remote control. The definition would be any battery smaller than 20 ampere-hours is a motorcycle battery..

I don't know what I'm supposed to see, I'm saying what i've purchased.

· · 5 years ago

Sorry everybody. A misunderstanding amplified by a definition problem. Consider me flogged with a rubber hose.

· · 5 years ago

And specifically to you, Bill, I apologize sincerely. I let a bad mood ruin my attitude... then I went ahead and posted some stupid, disparaging comment. The irony is that your post could have come from me! (I mean if I owned a Roadster and a modern DVD player...) I'm always amazed at what product makes use of higher technology, and what product puts it off as long as possible (incandescent interior lighting in cars, anybody??).

Anyway... I'm sorry, and I fully expect you to hold me accountable for any further idiocy on my part in the future.

Special shout-out to Ex for also responding in a pleasant way.

· Bill Howland (not verified) · 5 years ago


NO worries mate, I sometimes get overly involved in a point. Sometimes I go at extended lengths to show the "other side of the story" and some are probably mad at me for that. But I feel its healthy to keep the discussion more open and less parochial. It will, I feel, endear more 'casually interested eyes' into viewing and their advertising. So its a good editorial decision to let me post "alternative posts", business wise, in my opinion.

This was nothing by comparison. As I always say, I don't expect to be right all the time. If I say something you perceive as wrong or odd, fire away. We're all trying to be friends here.

· · 5 years ago

Group hug!

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