PHOTO CAPTION: Grid storage field with converted shipping containers full of batteries.

Charge Your EV in 15 Minutes

Swiss researchers have come up with a way to fully-charge an electric car in almost the same time it takes to refuel an ICE-age model. There's just one caveat...

Published: 25-Jan-2016

One of the biggest complaints about electric cars is that it takes waaaaaaaaay to long to recharge the battery, literally hours, while it takes only a few minutes to refuel with fossil fuels or compressed hydrogen.

So, how does a full recharge in just 15 minutes sound, my friend?

According to researchers at Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne, the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, it's entirely possible, and the problem isn't the battery. It's the grid. As it's presently configured, it can't recharge at such a high rate. So, they've come up with a system to solve this problem: high capacity grid storage.

It would work like this.

What essentially is a giant storage battery slowly sips power from the grid, placing little strain on it. Then when an EV driver pulls up to a charger, the Energy Buffer Unit or EBU, disconnects from the grid and dumps its stored electrical energy into the waiting electric car. Fifteen minutes later, or less, the driver unplugs and goes on their merry way, The EBU reconnects to the grid and slowly replaces the lost electrons, ready for the next EV to pull up.

The Swiss calculated that it would take some 2.2 megawatt hours of storage capacity to handle 200 cars per day. That's close to the average in the United states where some 156,000 stations handle an estimated 40 million refueling operations per day. Given present lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery chemistry, they estimate it would take four 40ft. shipping container-sized EBU's to handle that level of charging capacity: not an insignificant financial investment, but not unobtainable assuming cell costs hit the 2020 target of $150/kWh. At that price, that level of capacity would be around $330,000. The Nature Climate Change developed chart below illustrates how rapidly battery costs are coming down.

plummeting battery costs

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