In an attempt to overcome one of the objections to electric cars – long charge times – Swiss researchers have demonstrated a setup that can replenish an EV in 15 minutes.
“Our aim was to get under the psychological threshold of a half hour,” said Massimiliano Capezzali, deputy director of the EPFL Energy Center and the research project’s leader. “But there is room for improvement.”
As it stands, their solution reportedly involves making available 4.5 megawatts – as much current as required by 4,500 washing machines – to charge as many as 50 cars at a rate of 80-100 kw each.
This amount of current enabled the researchers to provide 20 kilowatt-hours to 30 kwh needed to charge a Nissan Leaf’s battery.
But as can be true even of Superchargers which must have sufficient infrastructure to tap into, the Swiss researchers realized they’d need a workaround to so much current that could “bring down the power grid.”
What they developed was an “Intermediate” storage unit – a lithium-ion battery bank the size of a shipping container that is itself replenished at a more sedate charge rate, but stands ready to fill EVs on demand.
To demonstrate the project the EPFL Industrial Electronics Lab’s researchers built prototype gas stations to estimate how these would need to be modified as internal combustion vehicles die out and get replaced by EVs.
In order to handle 200 EVs per day, the researchers found a quick charging station would need intermediate storage capacity of 2.2 MWh, or an Intermediate battery system the size of four shipping containers.
What the end goal of this for-now science project is will remain to be seen. Already home charging, public level 2 and level 3 are filling needs.
Capezzali suggested the tech at least has been found to do more if required.
“Electric cars will change our habits. It’s clear that, in the future, several types of charging systems — such as slow charging at home and ultra-fast charging for long-distance travel — will co-exist,” said Capezzali.