To help make electric cars more palatable for long-distance driving, the 2012 Nissan Leaf SL and 2012 Mitsubishi i can be rapid-charged from empty to 80 percent full in around 30 minutes using specially-designed Chademo rapid charge stations.
For those using them, rapid charge stations provide a welcome alternative to slower, level 2 charging stations, but require up to 50 kilowatts of instantaneous power from the electrical grid in order to work, leading some to worry about the strain that they place on the electrical grid.
The solution, developed and deployed in Chicago by electric car infrastructure firm 350Green, AllCell Technologies and the Illinois Institute of Technology, is to power the charging stations from big battery packs.
As part of a smart-grid pilot project, the large-capacity battery packs slowly charge from the electricity grid when demand is low.
When grid demand is high, the packs can then feed power back to the grid as required, also providing the necessary power needed to operate a rapid charging station.
By combining storage and charging capabilities, the project aims to develop a solution that does not negatively impact the electrical grid.
But by charging up the large storage batteries at night-time when electricity is plentiful, it could also lower the cost of rapid charging.