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Published on May 5th, 2010 | by Nick Chambers

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Ultra Quick Battery Charge System Developed: 50% Full in 3 Minutes

The Nikkei newspaper (subs. req’d) says that a Japanese company has built a quick charge system that can take a battery from zero charge to 50% full in about 3 minutes.

JFE Engineering Corp, based in Yokohama, says that the system will go on sale later this year and has the capability to charge 5 times faster than other such quick charge products. Even though one station costs about $63,000, that’s roughly 40% less than the competition.

Although details on the system are scant, it apparently works by trickle charging a self-contained, specially designed lithium-ion battery. When a user connects up to the system to perform the quick charge, the lithium-ion battery is capable of dumping a huge amount of electricity all at once. The unit is about the size of a gas station pump, and JFE is targeting sales of it towards gas stations and convenience stores.

For installation locations, the JFE system presents some advantages. For one, it works off of a “standard” power source, meaning that it doesn’t require a costly upgrade to more robust circuitry to provide the quick charge. By skipping the upgrades needed of other types of quick chargers, installers can save about $100,000. Also, because the system works off of trickle charging a contained battery, it can charge its own batteries when utilities charge the lowest rates (typically at night), thereby saving the business and the customer money.

JFE says that, for cars to take advantage of the extremely quick charging, the car’s software will need to be changed along with “other adjustments.” If these changes aren’t made, the car will only quick charge as fast as other methods such as the level 3 quick charger from RWE above. Reportedly, JFE is working with auto manufacturers to make cars compatible with their system.

Although the news is exciting, I’m feeling pretty skeptical about it. For one, if it’s a non-standard method of charging, how can JFE expect automakers to adopt it without first getting the charge system standardized by an organization such as SAE? Also, what happens once the self contained battery is discharged? No more quick charge customers for the day? That wouldn’t be good for the travelers who are expecting to be able to refill their EVs in the middle of a longer trip.

Source: Green Car Advisor

Image Credit: RWE Level 3 quick charger


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  • Alex

    What about charge cycle effects? i know from experience that quick charging a battery creates a TON of heat which kills the lifespan of the battery. Unless there is some new tech with lithium out there, wouldnt such a short charge time have this effect?

    • Nick Chambers

      Alex,

      I tend to agree with you that the super speedy charge times could kill the lifespan of the battery… but only if you do it all the time. I imagine most people will be charging their EVs more slowly at home on the J-1772 size plug which will increase the lifespan. Then, when they’re out and about they might use the quick charger every now and then, which might have a negligible effect on the lifespan of the battery. I really don’t know what the upper limit is for how many times you can do the quick charge before it starts to really affect the battery.

  • Alex

    What about charge cycle effects? i know from experience that quick charging a battery creates a TON of heat which kills the lifespan of the battery. Unless there is some new tech with lithium out there, wouldnt such a short charge time have this effect?

    • Nick Chambers

      Alex,

      I tend to agree with you that the super speedy charge times could kill the lifespan of the battery… but only if you do it all the time. I imagine most people will be charging their EVs more slowly at home on the J-1772 size plug which will increase the lifespan. Then, when they’re out and about they might use the quick charger every now and then, which might have a negligible effect on the lifespan of the battery. I really don’t know what the upper limit is for how many times you can do the quick charge before it starts to really affect the battery.

  • http://neilblanchard.vox.com/library/posts/ Neil Blanchard

    Of course, this depends greatly on the battery pack itself, and also on the battery management system (BMS). If your EV is not designed for this superfast charging — how does the charger “make” it happen?

    Maybe, since it is for “only” 3 minutes, the heat doesn’t get a chance to build up? ‘Cuz 75-80% in say 10 minutes would be even better, but that may not work…

    I think we all will be learning more about EV batteries!

    Sincerely, Neil

  • http://neilblanchard.vox.com/library/posts/ Neil Blanchard

    Of course, this depends greatly on the battery pack itself, and also on the battery management system (BMS). If your EV is not designed for this superfast charging — how does the charger “make” it happen?

    Maybe, since it is for “only” 3 minutes, the heat doesn’t get a chance to build up? ‘Cuz 75-80% in say 10 minutes would be even better, but that may not work…

    I think we all will be learning more about EV batteries!

    Sincerely, Neil

  • http://www.technologyslice.com.au Tech

    Is a full charge double the 3 minutes (ie. 6 minutes) or does it take longer?

    • Nick Chambers

      Tech,

      Great question, and based on the available information I have no idea. My guess is that it would take longer than 6 minutes for a full charge. It’s relatively easy to fill a lithium-ion battery up to even 80% capacity, but filling it up that last little bit tends to take longer.

  • http://www.technologyslice.com.au Tech

    Is a full charge double the 3 minutes (ie. 6 minutes) or does it take longer?

    • Nick Chambers

      Tech,

      Great question, and based on the available information I have no idea. My guess is that it would take longer than 6 minutes for a full charge. It’s relatively easy to fill a lithium-ion battery up to even 80% capacity, but filling it up that last little bit tends to take longer.

  • J.V.

    How much time needs to elapse between charges? If the charger is trickle-charging itself, does that mean that it can only quick-charge one battery per hour? per day? If this is going to be sold to convenience stores and gas stations, they will need to have a quick turn-over of customers. A pump with an “out of service” message 95% of the time isn’t going to be a game-winner. Am I missing something?

  • J.V.

    How much time needs to elapse between charges? If the charger is trickle-charging itself, does that mean that it can only quick-charge one battery per hour? per day? If this is going to be sold to convenience stores and gas stations, they will need to have a quick turn-over of customers. A pump with an “out of service” message 95% of the time isn’t going to be a game-winner. Am I missing something?

  • XC

    Uhhh, heat anyone?

    The good news is that your battery is charged, the bad news is that your carbon fiber hood is burning.

    -XC

  • XC

    Uhhh, heat anyone?

    The good news is that your battery is charged, the bad news is that your carbon fiber hood is burning.

    -XC

  • TomHynes

    One of the most expensive components of an electric car is the lithium batteries. This just means you need twice as much batteries.

  • TomHynes

    One of the most expensive components of an electric car is the lithium batteries. This just means you need twice as much batteries.

  • DickH

    Let’s use a Chevy Volt (16 KW-hr battery pack) as an example for this ultra-quick-charge scheme. If the charging process inside the battery is 90% efficient (a reasonable number), the charging process would produce about 1600 watts of heat during the six-minute charge process. This is equivalent to a turning on a stovetop electric burner element for six minutes. Your battery pack would become a crispy critter.

    A more reasonable charging rate for a battery pack is six hours.

    Yet people still buy this quick-charge nonsense.

  • DickH

    Let’s use a Chevy Volt (16 KW-hr battery pack) as an example for this ultra-quick-charge scheme. If the charging process inside the battery is 90% efficient (a reasonable number), the charging process would produce about 1600 watts of heat during the six-minute charge process. This is equivalent to a turning on a stovetop electric burner element for six minutes. Your battery pack would become a crispy critter.

    A more reasonable charging rate for a battery pack is six hours.

    Yet people still buy this quick-charge nonsense.

  • J.V.

    Clever convenience-store owners will use this unit as a combination of quick charger and hot dog cooker.

  • J.V.

    Clever convenience-store owners will use this unit as a combination of quick charger and hot dog cooker.

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