Once you start talking about 200 miles of driving in-between 5 minute “pit-stops”, it’s not really clear if you’re talking about gas or electric-powered cars – and that’s the whole point of developing quick-charging and battery-swapping stations for EVs: you can get all of the green, none of the sacrifice. Now, you can have that very thing!
Last week, Kanno Tomio and his team of engineers in Tochigi, Japan have patented and demonstrated a new, ultra-fast charging system that fully charged a (production-spec.) Nissan Leaf’s battery pack in under 300 seconds (that’s 5 minutes to you and me).
In order to transfer the huge amounts of electricity required to charge the Leaf so quickly, Tomi’s team made use of capacitors, which could power up their own charge over time, while still releasing huge amounts energy suddenly and, it should be said, cost-effectively (this is similar, in concept, to the KERS hybrid systems employed by current Formula 1 race teams).
Tomi’s capacitor-based charging stations can also be “set” to collect their reserves of power during off-peak times, and can be fueled themselves by Japan’s existing energy infrastructure without the need for special connections to be installed – another advantage to current “quick charge” systems which claim to be able to charge a car like the Leaf to 80% capacity in about 30 min (vs. 90% in less than 5).
The group expects to begin installing its ultra-fast chargers in homes and businesses in 2012 … and, yes, they do plan to offer them to the North American and European markets shortly thereafter. No word (yet) on pricing.