In the quest to reduce the charging time of electric vehicles, a team of engineers at the Southwest Research Institute used internal research funds to handle challenges associated with such an initiative.
Meanwhile, as electric vehicles become popular, consumers expect the switch to battery-operated platforms be seamless. Consumers also expect these platforms to provide the same acceleration, performance, and comfort of vehicles provided by fossil fuels powered vehicles. In fact, manufacturers have been able to deliver mostly what consumers expect, however, technology lags in some areas such as battery recharge. Typically, for fossil fuels powered vehicles, consumers only need few minutes to fill the fuel tank before they can get back on the road, which, for electric vehicles requires hours for the same exercise.
Importantly, fast charging of electric vehicles is considered to make a huge difference in their popularity. Elaborately, fast charging converts the AC power supplied to homes into DC power required by batteries within the charging station itself to speed up charging significantly. Conversely, speed charging of electric vehicles puts forth new challenges.
Mechanically, fast charging maximizes the shift of lithium ions within a battery pack. With the shift of lithium ions at such a high rate, they can accumulate on the surface of the anode of the battery, and settle metallic lithium by a process called lithium plating. This results in reduced battery performance, and if not checked, can cause a short circuit and fail.
“Nonetheless, the electrochemistry behind lithium plating is complex and not completely understood,” stated a staff engineer at the Powertrain Engineering Division, Southwest Research Institute. The physics-based model allows to detect the occurrence of lithium plating in real time, so that charging rate can be adjusted to prevent battery damage and also allow for shorter charging times.