Engineers from Penn State University are working on a new lithium iron phosphate battery that could provide electric vehicles (EVs) with 400 km-worth of range and charge in as little as 10 minutes. If successful, the new battery could significantly reduce the anxiety that owners of EVs have about running out of change on the road.
“We developed a pretty clever battery for mass-market electric vehicles with cost parity with combustion engine vehicles,” said co-author Chao-Yang Wang. “There is no more range anxiety and this battery is affordable”.
They key to the battery’s rapid recharging and long-life (the battery is estimated to be good for about 2 million miles) is its ability to quickly heat up to 60°C for charge and discharge, and then cool down when not in use.
To achieve this, the researchers used a self-heating method featuring a thin nickel foil with one end attached to the negative terminal and the other extending outside the cell to create a third.
The flow of electrons quickly heats up the nickel foil through resistance heating, which, in turn, heats up the inside of the battery. Finally, upon reaching 60°C on the inside, the switch opens and the battery is ready for a quick charge or discharge.
According to Wang, the self-heating method that was previously developed at Penn State will allow the team to use inexpensive materials for the battery’s cathode (made from thermally stable lithium iron phosphate) and anode (made of very large particle graphite), and a low-voltage, safe electrolyte.
The battery will be able to produce 40 kilowatt hours and 300 kilowatts of power – enough to enable an EV to accelerate from zero to 96 km per hour in just 3 seconds.
“This battery has reduced weight, volume and cost,” said Wang. “I am very happy that we finally found a battery that will benefit the mainstream consumer mass market.”
A study detailing the findings was published on 18 January in the journal Nature Energy.