Improving Plug-In Electric Cars

Jun 04, 2009 by Miranda Marquit weblog
Charging car batteries
Working toward better charging techniques for car batteries. Image credit: Eduloqui

One of the issues that comes with plug-in autos, whether they are hybrid or straight-up electric, is the ability to charge the battery. It can be difficult to charge batteries on the go, and it can take hours recharge a car battery to useful capacity. However, with increased emphasis placed on the development of cars that rely less on gasoline, it is little surprise that researchers and inventors are working on the problem of charging. Two of the more interesting efforts include roads that can recharge batteries and batteries designed to charge up faster.

In Daejeon, , the idea of a "recharging road" is being tested at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology. If the tests show that the idea is feasible (right now it's being tested on golf carts), charging strips would be placed in strategic places around town, embedded into the road surface. Electromagnetic induction would be used to charge the batteries of cars that contain a special magnetic, sensor-driven device. Powering the strips themselves would simply require a hook up to a standard . But if renewable power is the goal, it would also be possible to use to provide the electricity needed for the charging strips.

To solve the problem of lengthy charging, MIT is working on improved batteries that could be charged in a matter of minutes -- rather than over the course of hours. The key is in speeding up the way that lithium ions are exchanged in the batteries used in cars that use electricity for some of their power. MIT researchers claim that they can use a coating of lithium phosphate, similar to glass, to speed things up a hundredfold. Within three years, with the new production process, the researchers claim that the batteries could be ready for the market, allowing commuters the ability to charge up their cars in the amount of time it takes to use the bathroom at a rest stop. Unfortunately, a standard household plug is not an option for these types of batteries. Additionally, the charging stations in use right now would be inadequate -- they would have to be upgraded.

As technology advances, it will be interesting to see what researchers come up with next in terms of powering our cars.

© 2009 PhysOrg.com

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User comments : 8

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Skepticus
4.3 / 5 (6) Jun 04, 2009
The issue of charging time is moot if one consider an alternative approach - make the batteries modular to a universal standard. Then the driver only need to swap out the spent batteries and slot in the charged ones at the recharging station, like changing batteries in your flash lights. Have you remember the ground crew changing the (nuclear) power cylinders in the movie The Fifth Element???But...alas, the ego of the stupidity of human race in general mandates that they have to have 293 of batteries physical packages, and 232 types of proprietary connections to make a buck for their companies...!!!
jerryd
5 / 5 (4) Jun 04, 2009

This would be interesting if their wasn't already at least 5 Lithium batts types that can recharge in 15 minutes to at least 80% and other batts like lead, Ni-cad that can too.
I drive and build EV's and keep up with such things that my group, The EVDL list, has tested.
finitesolutions
not rated yet Jun 04, 2009
The recharging road crossed my mind also. It already exists in the form of tramways and trolleys. It is a powerful idea. An intelligent highway will power and direct traffic. This will limit the accidents due to unfocused drivers. All you do is enter the destination address and the car drives itself there. Some road infrastructure needs to be added to facilitate this.
VOR
not rated yet Jun 05, 2009
"Unfortunately, a standard household plug is not an option for these types of batteries"... is this correct or just faulty reporting? At home it doesnt usually NEED to charge quickly. Author makes it sound like quick charge battery design could NOT be charged slowly... I doubt that is true. Quick charging is better than changing batteries-simpler, less batteries to produce, ship, handle, recharge. But modular may find some limited use-or more if quick charge tech doenst come to fruition(but I think it will).
gaza2008
not rated yet Jun 06, 2009
The issue of charging time is moot if one consider an alternative approach - make the batteries modular to a universal standard. Then the driver only need to swap out the spent batteries and slot in the charged ones at the recharging station, like changing batteries in your flash lights.


If you do a Google search with the following terms, you can see that it is already being implemented throughout Israel. I am not up to date with it, but i believe they have been looking to implement in other countries too;

israel charging swap better
gaza2008
not rated yet Jun 06, 2009
"Unfortunately, a standard household plug is not an option for these types of batteries"... is this correct or just faulty reporting? At home it doesn't usually NEED to charge quickly. Author makes it sound like quick charge battery design could NOT be charged slowly... I doubt that is true. Quick charging is better than changing batteries-simpler, less batteries to produce, ship, handle, recharge. But modular may find some limited use-or more if quick charge tech doens't come to fruition(but I think it will).

Charging an EV from a home power outlet in the minutes range requires mammoth levels of electrical current. Assuming the cabling (which i doubt) and fusing of your average home were capable of providing the gigantic levels of electrical current to charge within minutes, household power outlets/ plugs are nowhere near capable for the job.

I have no idea if it is even possible, or what it would cost to bring up the electrical current capacity of a home to charge within minutes. If it is possible to upgrade electrical current capacity of a home (and fit suitable plugs), i wonder how the cost would compare to using a super fast charging battery to charge the fast charge battery in the vehicle. Filling the home fast charging battery in a slow manner over mostly a 23 to 24 hour period.
dan42day
1 / 5 (1) Jun 07, 2009
What if you could stop at a station and hook up a small trailer/battery pack for long range interstate driving. When the pack runs down, just trade it for another at another station. You keep your original batteries charged and ready for local travel at your destination.
jshloram
not rated yet Jun 07, 2009
The issue of charging time is moot if one consider an alternative approach - make the batteries modular to a universal standard. Then the driver only need to swap out the spent batteries and slot in the charged ones at the recharging station



Electrical vehicle development and battery design is in the most early stages. Far to early for standardization of this type. It would just cut of vital development.