If I asked you what was holding you back from making the shift to electric, chances are I’d get all sorts of answers, with a lot of purists saying that electric vehicles don’t provide the same feel and character as a good old internal combustion engine. While I definitely agree with that—I really love my internal combustion motorcycles and cars—I’m starting to come to terms with the reality that EVs will be a big part of the future of mobility.

This brings me back to my first question—but this time, framed from a practicality standpoint. Chances are factors like range anxiety, inefficient batteries, and long charging times will come into play. Having said that, technology surrounding batteries is accelerating at a blistering pace, with a lot of that tech taking place in colleges and universities focusing on the development of future tech. For example, in Pennsylvania State University, scientists have been pushing the envelope of battery technology for several years now, and it seems like they’ve achieved a breakthrough recently—how does a ten-minute charging time sound?

The development comes from a team of engineers led by Chao-Yang Wang who have made some significant strides in recent years. In 2016, the team developed a self-regulating temperature system to address the issue of lithium batteries' poor performance in cold climates. This is based on a nickel foil that quickly heats the battery up in extremely cold conditions, allowing it to continue operating properly.

The scientists used this method in 2019 to charge a lithium battery prototype at high temperatures, which would typically cause it to deteriorate. This time, the battery was heated up quickly—in only 30 seconds—by the use of a thin nickel foil through which electrons pass before being immediately cooled down again. This was done in a method that didn't cause the battery to deteriorate while enabling it to benefit from the quicker charging provided by high temperatures. According to this study, an electric vehicle battery may be fully charged in under 10 minutes, giving it a range of 200–300 miles.

In a recently released study, the scientists who have been working on this technology have paired a new prototype battery's quick charge time with increased energy density. The nickel-foil heating element is once again used to facilitate quicker charging times, and the most recent version has an energy density of 265 Wh/kg, an improvement over the 209 Wh/kg of the previous iteration. According to the scientists, this energy density and quick charge time are a record-breaking combination which may present some intriguing design opportunities for electric vehicles.

According to the researchers, this equates to around 500,000 miles driven through fast charging as the batteries can be charged to 70 percent in just 11 minutes, for a total of 2,000 cycles. Needless to say, this new battery technology will pave the way for less expensive, more compact, and energy-dense battery packs that can be rapidly recharged to keep electric vehicles on the road for longer.

Of course, with this technology being in the development stage, we’ll have to wait maybe a few more years before we start seeing it roll out in commercial vehicles. Furthermore, the next hurdle for the mainstream adoption of this tech would be the development of infrastructure to provide easy access to this technology.

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