#81 – Inside Our Industry – 5-Minute Electric Vehicle Charging Could Be Here Soon

Posted on | Inside Our Industry

With the push for more and more electric vehicles to be sold in the United States this decade, charging those vehicles is a major concern. This research out of Purdue University is very positive in addressing, and potentially, eliminating, this concern. Following is the report, in part, from the Detroit Free Press.

5-minute electric vehicle charging could be here soon, professor says
Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, Jan 10, 2022

Ford Motor Co is working with scientists at Purdue University in Indiana on a patent-pending plan to slash the average time it takes to recharge all-electric vehicles at charging stations from an estimated 25 minutes to 5 minutes.

The man leading the effort, mechanical engineer and Professor Issam Mudawar, 66, a Beirut, Lebanon, native who came to the United States to study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has developed cutting-edge technology used in jumbo jets and spaceships. Now he’s applying that intelligence to all-electric cars – and how to reduce the time it takes to recharge batteries, so people don’t feel anxious about watching their vehicle run low.

He initially predicted a two-year window until the electric vehicle charging technology comes to market. His team is working around the clock to make it happen by 2023. But he told the Free Press in an interview it could happen even sooner than his forecast.

Mudawar is in the final test stages for a special charging cable. That’s it. A cable. But what it does is magical. Knowing that batteries can overheat when charged too quickly, auto makers have been trying to figure out a way to cool down the process.

Rather than redesign the battery, work instead to cool the process down. “Today, chargers are limited in how quickly they can charge an EV’s battery due to the danger of overheating. Charging faster requires more current to travel through the charging cable,” Michael Degner, senior technical leader, Ford Research and Advanced Engineering 1, said in November in a Ford news release.

This new cable design from Purdue uses liquid to cool the cable, then turns the liquid to vapour. This vapour element is revolutionary.

The project was funded by a research and development alliance between Ford and Purdue. Another reason for faster charging is because the need to charge is not predictable even though it’s tracked on the dashboard screen like a fuel gauge. Battery charge is affected by speed, weather and topography.

Worry about distance a car can drive on a battery is often called “range anxiety,” and this new technology addresses that issue. But charge time is the new range anxiety,” McElroy, of “Autoline,” said. “People think, OK, I can live with an electric car but I don’t want to be stopping for 30-45 minutes to charge if I’m on a road trip.”

A prototype of this new technology, this charging cable, is being tested in the lab now. In coming months, Mudawar will study the speed of charge on various electric vehicles and move as quickly as possible to get the product to market. While auto makers led by Tesla – including GM, Ford and Volkswagen – have battery electric vehicles on the market currently, public use of charging stations is expected to surge in the US with the introduction of bestselling Ford and General Motors pickup trucks.