A team of engineers at Penn State have successfully demonstrated a fast-charging technique that can give an electric vehicle 200 to 300 miles of range in just 10 minutes while maintaining the safety and longevity of its lithium-ion battery. It appears that degradation can be avoided by heating a battery up to a certain temperature, and then quickly lowering it using a vehicle’s cooling system. Up to 2,500 charging cycles are possible, which is equivalent to half a million miles of travel.
Lithium-ion batteries degrade when rapidly charged at ambient temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit because, rather than the lithium ions smoothly being inserted into the carbon anodes, the lithium deposits in spikes on the anode surface. Wang and his team realized that if the batteries could heat up to 140 degrees F for only 10 minutes and then rapidly cool to ambient temperatures, lithium spikes would not form and heat degradation of the battery would also not occur.