People don’t like to wait. That’s what made Domino’s Pizza the success it was in the 1980s and it’s what makes electric cars such a tough sell today. Call it “range anxiety” if you want, but you can run out of gas, too, and nobody complains about that. What is really at the heart of the matter, I think, is impatience. People want their car ready to roll, and ready to roll right now.
In other words: build an electric car that can be “topped off” in 5 minutes and you’ve got a winner.
The stuff of fantasy, right? Not so much.
Paul Braun and his research team at the University of Illinois have developed a three-dimensional nano-structure for battery cathodes that allows for dramatically faster charging and discharging without sacrificing energy storage capacity, which could result in phones and laptops that fully charge in a matter of seconds and cars that fully charge in a matter of minutes – without sacrificing overall range or performance.
The breakthrough comes from wrapping conductive film into three-dimensional shapes, resulting in high capacity and large current. The group has made batteries that can charge (or discharge) in seconds, up to 100 times faster than equivalent bulk electrodes, but which can also perform “normally”, discharging slowly, in existing applications.
Braun is optimistic about the technology’s potential in electric vehicles, pointing out that “if you had the ability to charge rapidly, instead of taking hours to charge the vehicle you could potentially have vehicles that would charge in similar times as needed to refuel a car with gasoline. If you had five-minute charge capability, you would think of this the same way you do an internal combustion engine. You would just pull up to a charging station and fill up.”
Braun’s work has been supported by both the U.S. Army Research Laboratory and the Department of Energy, and will continue with the ultimate goal being commercial applications and (one would think) enough money for Braun to roll to class in one of these.
Source: Science Daily.