One of the biggest downsides to electric vehicles today for many car shoppers is range anxiety and how long it takes to recharge. A team of engineers from Penn State has begun investigations on a lithium iron phosphate battery with a range of 250 miles that can recharge in 10 minutes. While vehicles today can already drive more than 250 miles per charge, they can take hours to recharge in some instances.
Having a battery with less driving range that can recharge extremely quickly would be more appealing for many EV shoppers. Researchers on the project say the battery eliminates range anxiety and is affordable. They also believe the battery would be good for about 2 million miles of driving in its lifetime.
The key to the long usable life and fast charging is the battery’s ability to quickly heat to 140 degrees Fahrenheit during charging and discharging. When the battery isn’t working, it’s able to cool down. The battery uses a self-healing approach previously developed at the University. Researchers use a thin nickel foil with one end attached to the negative terminal and the other extending outside the cell, creating a third terminal for the self-heating process.
Once the battery’s internal temperature hits 140 degrees Fahrenheit, the switch opens, and the battery is ready for rapid charge or discharge. The team’s novel self-heating method suggests they can use low-cost materials for the battery cathode and anode along with a safe, low-voltage electrolyte.
The cathode is thermally stable using lithium iron phosphate and doesn’t contain any expensive and critical materials like cobalt. The anode is made of very large particle graphite that is safe and inexpensive. Researchers say the battery has reduced weight, volume, and cost compared to currently available batteries for electric vehicles.