Electric cars are beneficial both financially and environmentally, making them a great option for drivers who want to reduce emissions and fuel costs. However, slow charging time is one of the reasons why some prospective buyers remain hesitant. In an unexpected twist, electric cars may get a hand from a cooling system designed for future NASA space missions. Amazingly, this could cut the charging times of electric vehicles to five minutes or less!
The science and other stuff to know
Using NASA’s Flow Boiling Module as a blueprint, a team of researchers at Purdue University, in collaboration with Ford Motor Co., reduced the amount of heat traveling through wires to push 1,400 amperes, the unit of electric current through cables, a press release explains.
This complex heat transfer system was originally developed to maintain the proper temperatures on equipment in space. However, a team of researchers later discovered that the technology could also be used in electric car charging systems to reduce charging times.
The heat generated from charging powerful lithium-ion batteries in electric vehicles means that chargers are currently limited to around 30 amperes for at-home chargers and up to 350 amperes for fast-charging stations. The new tech, however — known as “subcooled flow boiling” — is capable of delivering a current 4.6 times that of the fastest available electric car chargers on the market. This would allow charge times of less than five minutes.
NASA and Purdue researchers may have found a solution to a problem for those who want to own an electric car but are concerned about how long it will take to charge it. According to NASA and Purdue experts, charging an EV takes anywhere from 20 minutes at a roadside station to several hours at home.
“This same technology may make owning an electric-powered car here on Earth easier and more feasible,” writes NASA, in a press release. “Application of this new technology resulted in (an) unprecedented reduction of the time required to charge a vehicle… [it] may remove one of the key barriers to worldwide adoption of electric vehicles.”
This means that the new tech can help charge electric cars faster than it takes to fuel up at the pump. This advancement will surely be welcomed by states and countries banning the sales of new gas-powered cars by 2035.
Electric cars cable charging research and development has been ongoing and this new tech isn’t the first of its kind and it surely won’t be the last. However, it should also be noted that, even if EV batteries that charge in under 10 minutes are technically feasible, it is unclear whether such charging would ever be practical.
At 400 volts or higher, today’s fast charging stations already draw far more power from the grid than the 120- and 240-volt outlets that many EV owners use at home. If everyone drove an EV and expected ever-faster charging to be available at all times, the world’s grids would be seriously stressed. As the fast charging technology progresses, the rest of the world’s technologies will need to catch up.