If you're planning on investing in a DC fast charger to get your electric vehicle battery 80 percent juiced up in 30 minutes, you might want to stick with your Level 2 charger for a while longer. Korean scientists at the Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) have developed a lithium ion battery that can be recharged 30 to 120 times faster than li-ion batteries on the market today. What's your guestimate on how long a li-ion battery using that technology would take to recharge? How about this one: less than a minute!
Li-ion battery packs have been getting smaller and lighter all the time, gaining more capacity and faster charging rates than previous versions. Breaking larger batteries into smaller individual cells has been making EV batteries better, but that technique only gets you so far. The new Korean method takes the cathode material – standard lithium manganese oxide (LMO) in this battery – and soaks it in a solution containing graphite. Then, by carbonizing the graphite-soaked LMO, the graphite turns into a dense network of conductive traces that run throughout the cathode. These networks of carbonized graphite effectively act like blood vessels, allowing every part of the battery to recharge at the same time – speeding up recharge rates to an unheard-of pace.
These ultra-fast charging batteries aren't expected to be cheap, which is a problem since the li-ion battery packs currently used in EVs are already too expensive for most car shoppers. The research paper that describes the technology, "Carbon-Coated Single-Crystal LiMn2O4 Nanoparticle Clusters as Cathode Material for High-Energy and High-Power Lithium-Ion Batteries," sounds much too PhD-level and dry for anyone to read, but they show the technology moving forward. As cool as it is, if this innovation takes hold, many consumers will continue to look for EVs that carry this type of battery and have competitive market pricing. Don't expect to see that anytime soon.