According to a news release, Idaho National Laboratory researchers are employing machine learning and other advanced techniques to minimize electric vehicle charging times without hurting the battery.
Despite electric vehicles’ growing popularity, many buyers are hesitant to make the switch. One of the key reasons is that charging an electric automobile takes significantly longer than charging a vehicle powered by an internal combustion engine. This hesitation is a symptom of range anxiety, and the remedy is to purchase a long-range electric vehicle, which can be costly.
Because speeding up the charging process can damage the battery and shorten its lifespan, scientists are working on super-fast charging technologies that are specifically designed to charge each type of electric vehicle battery in 10 minutes or less without destroying it.
In quest of more powerful methods?
It takes a careful balancing act to charge the lithium-ion batteries that power electric automobiles. Drivers want to get back on the road as soon as possible, but with existing technology, speeding up the process destroys the batteries.
When a lithium-ion battery is charged, lithium ions migrate from the device’s cathode and anode sides.
The batteries can be charged faster by making the lithium ions migrate faster, although the lithium ions do not always entirely migrate from the cathode to the anode. As a result, lithium metal can accumulate, leading to premature battery failure. It can also induce cathode wear and cracking. All of these concerns will limit the battery’s lifetime and the vehicle’s effective range.
One answer to this conundrum is to customize the charging technique to maximize speed while preventing damage to varied battery designs. However, finding ideal protocols necessitates huge amounts of data on how alternative methods affect the lives, efficiency, and safety of these devices.
The design and condition of the batteries, as well as the practicality of implementing a certain charging protocol with the current electric grid infrastructure, are critical variables in the studies.
“Fast charging is critical to enhancing consumer trust and overall acceptance of electric vehicles,” stated Eric Dufek, Ph.D., of Idaho National Laboratory’s Energy Storage & Electric Transportation Department, at the American Chemical Society’s fall meeting (ACS). “It would make charging a vehicle quite similar to filling up at a gas station,” he continued.
Such progress could help the United States meet its target of having 50% of all vehicles sold powered by an electric or hybrid engine.
Developing distinctive charging protocols
Dufek and his Idaho National Laboratory research team have begun applying machine learning approaches that combine charging data to build individual charging protocols. The scientists taught the machine learning algorithm to forecast lives and how different designs will eventually fail by inputting information on the condition of many lithium-ion batteries throughout charging and discharging cycles. The data was then fed into the analysis to identify and optimize novel techniques that would be tested on actual batteries.
“We’ve considerably enhanced the quantity of energy that can be put into a battery cell in a short period,” Dufek explains. “Right now, we’re seeing batteries charge to more than 90% in 10 minutes without any lithium plating or cathode shattering.”
Powering a virtually dead battery to 90% capacity in 10 minutes is not particularly noteworthy, as it means that an electric vehicle may be fully charged in around half an hour. While many researchers are working on ways to achieve this type of super-fast charging, Dufek claims that one advantage of their machine learning model is that it connects the protocols to the physics of what happens in a battery.
The researchers intend to utilize their model to improve existing approaches and to aid in the design of new lithium-ion batteries that are designed for quick charging. According to Dufek, the ultimate goal is for electric vehicles to be able to “teach” charging stations how to swiftly and safely charge their unique batteries.
It can be difficult to power each electric vehicle battery with a different charging technique since different types of batteries may require different charging equipment or processes.