Fast Charge Battery Pack for Electric Vehicles

Battery charger by AeroVironmentAs we've noted before in covering the KillaCycle, electric motorcycles and other electric vehicles are coming rapidly but batteries still have a few issues, how far you can go on a single charge and how long it takes to recharge them. Well it looks like some companies are getting a bit closer to recharge times we can live with, under 10 minutes! After all, if you drive a pickup or SUV with a 30 gallon fuel tank, it takes close to 5 minutes to top it off from empty, if batteries can recharge in 10 minutes, we're getting there.

AeroVironment, a leader in unmanned aircraft systems and efficient electric energy systems, today announced that it performed a fast charge demonstration of a lithium chemistry electric vehicle battery pack for representatives of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The 35kWh (kilowatt-hour) battery pack, developed by Altair Nanotechnologies, is designed for use in the Phoenix Motorcar Sport Utility Truck. This battery pack is designed to allow the truck to travel more than 100 miles on a single charge. The test, conducted by engineers at AV’s Monrovia, California Energy Technology Center, was a milestone in battery fast charging, demonstrating the capability of fully charging the pack in less than ten minutes.

AV engineers used a grid-connected AV advanced battery charger rated at 250kW. Prior testing of the Altairnano NanoSafe battery technology by AV demonstrated that such battery packs can sustain several cycles per day of ten minute charging and two hour discharging. Each cycle is equivalent to an electric vehicle traveling for two hours at 60 miles per hour.

Link: AeroVironment
Link: Phoenix Motorcars

Comments

  1. Ryan says

    I wonder what it would cost to drive into a gas station (or electron depot or whatever we will call them) get my 10 min. charge that is good for 100 miles and drive out.
    (or, even better, how much it would add to my home electric bill for each charge)

  2. says

    good questions….

    There are street lights, signs, etc. that are powered by solar panels along freeways. We should expect (even demand) similar technology. These stations should be privately owned and maintained, but the good ones (and inexpensive ones) will figure out how to use solar energy to be the source for re-charging.

    Imagine where all the billions that are spent on gas can go instead? Better schools, parks, community development, your own pocket…

  3. todd says

    Sign me up. I only need enough juice for a 75mph, 65 mile (round trip) commute on a motorcycle, not a 100 mile SUV. I can hook up at work and/or at home with a solar powered energy source or just the wall socket but none of my outlets are rated for 2000 amps… That charger must have some sort of high discharge battery pack of its own to supply 250,000 watts!

    -todd

  4. chris says

    sweet. looks like the whole electric thing just got a lot closer. not quite the flight at Kittyhawk in the way of breakthroughs, but this rates pretty close in my opinion.

  5. GenWaylaid says

    The latest generation of Lithium batteries really do have impressive charge/discharge rates, and there have been chargers up to the challenge for several years now. The weak link is the electric grid.

    You want 250kW at home? Even hooked up to the 240V lines that’s over 1000 amps. Not only is that a potentially dangerous current if mishandled, it’s the entire power consumption of an entire residential street! Thankfully, you don’t have to charge that fast at home. A few hours in the garage does the job just as nicely without melting your breaker box. Getting a fast charge on the road would almost require a direct feed off an electric substation. Even then it’s quite a sudden load to throw on the grid. The electric companies better figure out how they’re going to handle this right now or they might get blamed for killing the electric car this time around.

    Maybe the right approach is just to bury an enormous battery bank under the filling station the same way they bury huge gas tanks today. A busy electric charging station might dish out over a megawatt-hour a day, mostly during rush hours. That’s several tons of battery at least!

    Todd, you’d probably require a 7 or 8 kWh pack to make an electric motorcycle for your needs. The price of the new Lithium batteries is coming down rapidly, so you could probably buy enough for $2500. Most electric companies seem to charge around fifteen cents per kWh, so charging one of those electric SUVs would require $5.25 of electricity, and charging an electric motorcycle would require perhaps $1.20 worth.

  6. Trey says

    Now we’re starting to get somewhere – literally, and figuratively speaking…

    Trey

  7. says

    In all of this electric vehicle/battery thing, you have neglected to mention ELECTRIC WHEELCHAIR! It is more than obvious that seniors and handicapped persons do not count for much of anything now days!

    I have been in elec. whlchr for 5+ yrs. Chair has 2 encased batteries (32cc?) and is supposed to have a range of 10 miles round trip. This is just not so. If I get 3 and one half miles I am most lucky. Whether chair has 24 hour charge or 4 hour charge that is all there is!

    Put “US” on your electric vehicle list for larger batteries and shorter charges. At that point you will have accomplished something!

  8. kneeslider says

    The wheelchair point is a good one but instead of asking someone to focus on making a better battery for wheelchairs, the alternative view would be to figure any developments in the area of vehicle batteries will provide obvious benefits for every application that requires longer battery life and fast recharges, wheelchairs included.

    Unintended consequences are one of the neatest things about any technical innovation or advancement. If someone is trying to make a better biofuel to get away from oil imports, they may end up reducing pollution in the process. Work for better electric car batteries and electric wheelchairs end up using the same technology. Whatever gets people working in an area is a good thing, then others start to think about how to apply the technology in ways the researchers didn’t even think about. It’s all good.

    I think the electric wheelchair is going to be one of the first and maybe even most obvious beneficiaries of all of this vehicle battery work going on, and that’s cool.

  9. Dodgy says

    Interesting that much of the high performance battery technology has already been applied to mass production cars. 15 minute charging times have been commonplace for years, with capacity and weight ratios improving exponentially.
    Haven’t you people seen them around?
    (Hint: they aren’t very big)
    No, you can’t sit in them, but the model car/boat/aircraft people have been pushing the envelope on rechargeable battery technology for quite a while (From Wiki: “Around 1897, Nikola Tesla patented a remote controlled boat and later demonstrated the feasibility of radio-guided torpedoes to the United States military, but they were not adopted until the 1960s.”

    In the case of real cars and bikes maybe as the packs become lighter and smaller, standard ‘formats’ will be adopted?
    So when you roll into the ‘Zap Station’, you simply do an exchange of your ‘fuel pack’, exchanging it for one that has been recharged. This sort of battery technology already has excellent on board monitoring (capacity, performance etc.) so the ‘attendant’ can tell at a glance how much life is left in your pack, and the changeover price can be adjusted accordingly.
    Achieving very short recharge times is impressive, but has always reduced the life expectancy of the batteries involved, mainly through heat related to gas production. While this system copes better than its predecessors, the on board Phoenix charger takes six hours from 220 Volts, and I suspect the pack would last longer if you didn’t use the ten minute option all the time. So maybe multiple packs held by your local recharge station could be recharged over a couple of hours, and just dropped in to get you back on the road.
    Personally, I find it ridiculous and a little sad that in order to get attention, Phoenix feel the need to convert a two ton SUV. How much ‘performance’ could they get from something a little more practical?
    Strange also that as the oil reserves diminish, the manufacturers and market (more so perhaps in the USA and Australia than Europe) seem to be endlessly chasing bigger, heavier and more powerful vehicles. And regardless of engine efficiency, these still use more gas than smaller vehicles.
    Save fuel, get a bigger penis…