Researchers at Penn State have come up with a new lithium-ion battery design that could overcome one of the greatest challenges faced by electric vehicles: recharging time.

The Penn State scientists have figured out how to recharge the lithium-ion batteries much more quickly by regulating the battery’s internal temperature. If a lithium-ion battery is recharged at a too-low temperature, it can get spike-like internal deposits on the carbon anodes, which reduces the capacity of the battery and can even short the battery out, causing a fire. If the batteries are recharged at a warmer temperature, they avoid this issue, but they deteriorate due to the high temps.

The scientists’ approach is to avoid the dangers of either scenario, by applying Goldilocks’ “just right” approach. They’ve come up with a new battery design that heats up for quick, trouble-free charging, but cools down quickly after recharging to avoid deterioration. The end result is drastically decreased charging time; the researchers claim it only takes 10 minutes to recharge a battery that’s able to power an EV for 200-300 miles. The press release does not say whether that’s with the use of a Class II or Class III charger, but it’s likely either a Class III, or some new charger the team has invented.

As for the battery’s design itself, the Penn State presser says ““The self-heating battery uses a thin nickel foil with one end attached to the negative terminal and the other extending outside the cell to create a third terminal. A temperature sensor attached to a switch causes electrons to flow through the nickel foil to complete the circuit. This rapidly heats up the nickel foil through resistance heating and warms the inside of the battery. ” After charging, the battery’s temperatures are brought down by the vehicle’s cooling system.

It’s an innovative idea, but is it of use to motorcycles? It depends on how bulky, and how expensive it is. An oversized battery and charging system isn’t a big problem for a car, but it is for a motorcycle.

The Penn State researchers say this new design is good for 2,500 charging cycles, up to a half-million miles of road use.

 

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