Ford: 2-Minute Fast-Charging Doesn’t Hurt Batteries (Details)

2 months ago by Sebastian Blanco 34

2017 Focus Electric

We were given a preview of new research that Ford has been doing on fast-charging solid-state batteries a month ago. At the SAE WCX earlier this month, the engineers on the project shared a few more details about just how potentially game-changing this sort of technology could be. You have to be a bit of a battery geek to understand what’s going on here, but you can find said details in the paper called Fast Charging Lithium-Ion Batteries by Xiao Yang and Ted Miller, and compare them to the current state of Ford’s fast charging technology, as seen above.

As previously revealed, the headline details are that Ford has figured out a way to fast charge – and we mean really, really fast charge – a full-sized li-ion battery “without undue stress.” How fast? Well, Yang and Miller say that, “5 Ah prismatic Li-ion cells can be fully recharged in 3 minutes under a constant rate of 20C, or in 2 min (25.5C) from 0% to 85% state of charge (SOC) without undue stresses.” The test cells were five ampere-hour (Ah) li-ion prismatic batteries made by Panasonic.

Here’s how the researchers described their some of their actions:

We cycle the battery at 16C charge rate from 0 to 100%SOC and do not see any unexpected battery capacity loss in 50 cycles, where half of the cycles are charged at 1C-rate as a reference capacity check. We realize that the batteries under the fast charge tests do not experience any negative impacts related to mass transport in either solid electrodes or the electrolyte system. In the paper, we propose a new procedure to measure the ac and dc resistances of the battery under continuous operation. Electrochemical impedance analyses on the whole battery and the individual electrodes are also conducted.

The paper authors say that charging a li-ion battery, “is more difficult than discharging them because of the sluggish insertion process of lithium ions into lattices of the graphite negative electrode in common Li-ion batteries.” The good news is that lithium titanate (LTO), “does not experience any phase transition and less volume expansion during [fast] charging.”

While this is all promising, the issues with this paper are twofold. First, the test results come from only 50 charge/discharge cycles, which is obviously not enough to judge if this sort of rapid fast charging will work in an actual electric vehicle. Second, the authors admit that, “In the paper, we demonstrate how fast a full-sized Li-ion battery can be recharged, though the power-typed batteries (150 Wh/l) under test are not intended for pure electric vehicle uses.” So, this is more a theoretical EV battery tech that needs to be explored further than something that we can guarantee will be in the new Focus Electric.

If you have access to SAE papers or want to spend $27, you can get a copy of the report yourself here.

Source: SAE

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34 responses to "Ford: 2-Minute Fast-Charging Doesn’t Hurt Batteries (Details)"

  1. DJ says:

    While awesome, only 50 cycles! How about you run it up to 100 and then 500 and then 1,000 and let us know the difference.

    Here’s to hoping!

    1. Didier says:

      Especially if it takes 2 minutes per cycles !

    2. Nick says:

      Lithium titanate will cycle a huge number of times just fine. It’s well known.

      The only downside is its quite poor every density. You’d get to fast charge that thing a lot! πŸ˜€

  2. AlphaEdge says:

    Yeah, and if “lithium titanate (LTO)” was so awesome, everyone would be using it, especially Tesla.

    Energy density is a problem with that chemistry.

    So have they solved that? Of course not, or they would be citing that also.

    1. Roy_H says:

      Correct! Lithium Titanate has been around for a long time. Heavy and expensive but excellent long life (if I remember correctly, someone claimed 20,000 cycles) and charge-discharge rate. Also claim to be safer.

  3. Doggydogworld says:

    It’s actually only 25 cycles of fast charging, the other 25 were at 1C.

    I’m confused, what did they figure out? It seems they just tested an existing high power Li-ion cell at 16C and reported the results.

  4. Seth says:

    Lithium Titanate batteries were first used in the Japanese Mitsubishi i-MiEV made by Toshiba. The issue ofcourse is energy density, a LTO cell only has something like 2 Volts over the 4 which is common for other Lithium chemistries.

    As you can imagine, it fell out of favor over more energy dense variants.

    Charging 10kWh batteries at 50kW using Chademo was pretty cool in 2010 though. Still, the 2010 version still charges at 36kW for 16kWh which is BMW i3 like (2.4C).

  5. Terawatt says:

    Why do you spread crap like this around?

    It’s highly suspect even to anyone who’s no idea what a scientific paper is. I mean, come on! We’re supposed to believe that Tesla’s battery partner Panasonic is just sitting on battery technology that’s radically better than the existing one, and going to EV-uninterested Ford with it instead?

    SAE isn’t a scientific journal. The paper isn’t peer reviewed. Why didn’t they test beyond 50 cycles? Why is there no information about energy density, power density, or what Ford thinks about commercialising the technology?

    Because it’s a piece of crap designed to look like something legit and have blogging motions misreport the already extremely suspect content of the “report”, that’s why.

    1. Terawatt says:

      Oh, sorry. Volumetric energy density got a mention in passing, and it utterly destroys this as EV relevant. Any old Chinese Li-FePo4 pack is radically more power dense than more energy dense lithium ion chemistries like NMC. There’s a reason this doesn’t matter!

      1. SparkEV says:

        SparkEV uses both LFP (2014) and NMC (2015+), and energy/power densities are about the same. If anything, NMC is slightly better.

        If you mean LFP like those used in RC quadcopters, that’s different.

  6. Someone out there says:

    Lithium Titanate again? This is hardly news, it has been know since they were invented that they can easily handle 20-30C.

    1. zzzzzzzzzz says:

      It is Panasonic/Sanyo UF121285. I think NMC, not LTO.
      Used in automotive starter batteries too.
      No, people dreaming about miracle EV batteries any time soon don’t need to get excited yet :/

      1. Nick says:

        You’re right!

        It is an NMC cell they charged at 25C!

        Crazy.

      2. Nicolas says:

        Yes, it is a NMC prismatic cell from Panasonic.
        Panasonic spec is:
        max charge current: 1C

        So Ford is testing what is happening at 25x over the spec.

  7. Bill Howland says:

    Well lets have some fun here.

    Assuming the electric car world standardizes eventually on 60 kwh batteries, a 2 minute fill up would be at no losses, 1800 kw, or at least 2000 kw including losses.

    I’m not so worried about the battery – can you imagine a company like BLINK making a 2000 kw charging device? The thing would either melt or explode, 2000 volts @ 1000 amps is too much for a BLINK.

    1. David Murray says:

      Can you imagine the size of the charging cable?

      1. Bill Howland says:

        Not so bad actually. 2 glycol cooled cables about the size of the current TESLA SC cables.

        The main question is who will pay? Tesla is in the enviable position right now that Wall Street LIKES them.

        A fast charging solution such as a 2 minute charger would also eventually, require wall street’s blessing.

    2. arne-nl says:

      Stop the misinformation.

      People always want to scare others that the grid will melt, the sky will fall, etc.

      2 MW of charging power is perfectly possible, but you have to design the stuff to handle that power.

      The cable indeed will be quite thick. For 2 MW of power I would suggest an automatic connection from below, directly into the battery.

      1. Bill Howland says:

        “Stop the misinformation”.

        Please explain why a company like BLINK which had trouble with 7200 watts would have better luck with 2000000. Their fast chargers also were always broken.

        “Cable would be quite thick”.

        Wrong again – shielded cables withstanding 1000 volts@1ka (not a misprint) are compact.

        So Nope – same O.D. as the current SC cord, although you’d need 2 of them.

        “Must be built right” (what a BRILLIANT realization of the obvious)- As I said yesterday:

        “The Wise Man speaks since he has something to say. The FOOL speaks since he must Say Something”.

        Unless you can prove otherwise, all the misinformation is coming from you.

  8. SJC says:

    Titanate might be good for buses and trucks.

    1. Chris O says:

      …which is where it’s still used: Proterra’s electric buses.

      1. SJC says:

        “Proterra battery suppliers have included Toshiba and LG Chem. Today, we work with a variety of the best global suppliers and produce a module that’s designed for safety and durability in heavy-duty applications..”
        http://www.fleetsandfuels.com/fuels/evs/2016/09/proterra-extends-range-to-350-miles/

    2. Shane says:

      Exactly what I was thinking.

  9. pjwood1 says:

    Ford: Making False Promises Doesn’t Hurt Engine Sales

    fixing the headline

    1. Heisenberghtbacktotheroots says:

      You are 100% right!

      Dear inside evs staff: Please do not pass the ice makers ice pushing propaganda. Thx.

  10. ModernMarvelFan says:

    If it only takes 3 minutes to charge them, then the researchers should have waited until 1,000 cycles before publishing the data and study…

    Actually, keep cycling it for about 1 year and collect more data before publishing it would be even better.

  11. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    Kudos to Sebastian Blanco, writer of this article, for pointing out that only 50 cycles isn’t sufficient testing for EV use. There are far too many articles which breathlessly proclaim a breakthru in battery tech, with no caveats about limitations of the tech which make them non-viable for use in EVs.

    While this tech looks extremely promising, we’ve seen a lot of claims for breakthru battery tech which looked equally promising, but also failed to withstand the ~2000 charge/discharge cycles that EV batteries need to be engineered for.

    I have every hope that sooner or later, we’ll get an EV advocate’s “holy grail” of commercially viable solid state EV batteries which can be recharged in 5 minutes or less, and can withstand at least 2000 cycles without undue fading.

    But I’m far from convinced the batteries described here are that holy grail. We’ve seen quite similar claims before, multiple times. So far, none of those claims have lead to a commercial product.

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      Hmph, I shoulda read the other comments before commenting myself. So this is just a case of Ford trying to spin old battery tech that’s unsuitable for EVs due to low energy density, trying to spin it as if it’s something new.

      *Sigh* Nothing to see here. Move along, move along!

  12. Bob Vittengl says:

    as an owner of a Ford Focus E ev , apparently my level 2 charger has dropped my range for fully charged battery to 42 miles , a far cry from 80 ! I love this car but hate my battery melting down quicker than the wicked witch of the west !
    Nissan and Tesla seem to have a better handle on this .

    1. SJC says:

      LEAF has no “handle” on this because they have no good thermal management. 2011 LEAF cars with with about 60,000 miles are down below 60 miles on the original packs.

      1. Stephen Hodges says:

        Or worse…. 32,000 miles and 57% of original…. beginning to need pedals!

  13. A. J. Reese says:

    Vanadium…..

  14. Timmy says:

    I think Ford would do well to read even just the comments sections of InsideEVs, GCR, Electrek, GreenCarCongress, CleanTechnica and maybe a few other sites before committing any more money to this kind of “research”. Maybe they can create a new division called “Search before research”?

  15. CDAVIS says:

    So Ford basically confirmed what everyone but them already knew: 2min charging using exciting battery technology will prematurely wear out the battery.

    Perhaps this is an attempt on the part of Ford’s Battery Research Division to keep their jobs by making it look like their doing something knowing that the Ford Suits likely will not know this 2min research report has no added value.

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