Ford’s New Cable Design Is 4.6 Times Faster than Tesla’s Supercharger

Reaching full-charge in under five minutes.
Interesting Engineering

The signs of upcoming gas stations can be frequently seen inside and outside the city limits. You can access gas anywhere and get your tank full in 5 minutes. But when it comes to EVs, the story differs. According to a study by Nature Energy, the inconveniences associated with charging caused people to discontinue using electric vehicles in California and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles at a rate of 20 percent.

Starting a university-business alliance back in 2017, Ford and Purdue University succeeded to design a new charging cable that is 4.6 times faster than Tesla’s Supercharger that takes 20 minutes to fully charge with a direct current.

Electric vehicles' charging times and the produced heat during charging are such intermingling problems that solving one exacerbates the other. Charging EVs at higher speeds requires a higher electric current which results in a greater amount of heat. To keep the chargers working fast, removal of the extra heat is necessary, otherwise, reducing charging time would be impossible.

To address the issue, a team of researchers from Purdue University designed a patent-pending cable while using an alternative cooling method. The team that's responsible for this project specializes in experiments to discover “solutions for situations where the amounts of heat that are produced are way beyond the capabilities of today's technologies to remove” according to the university's press release.

EV’s charging time varies from 20 minutes at a station to hours at home. Since the first use of EVs the importance of chargers’ efficiency resulted in the invention of a wide range of chargers available on the market. Rapid DC chargers provide power at 67 hp (50 kW), which is the quickest way for most vehicles to charge fully after about an hour. If a vehicle is compatible with ultra-rapid DC chargers, it usually takes 20 to 40 minutes, even for the larger ones. Tesla Supercharger, for one, uses rapid DC charging and takes 20 minutes to charge an EV, which some may still consider too long if we’re talking about the Space Age.

However, there’s a whole other side to this story. If users plug in their EVs at night, there is no need to consume this much electricity. The long waiting time is a multi-faceted problem. To prepare your car for long-haul journeys, you can charge it as a top-up when at home or around town. In addition to the charger type, the speed also depends on the battery type and whether it’s full or not. If a vehicle is not designed to charge faster than a specific-speed charger, you can’t use this new cable. On the other hand, the developments may affect the future of EV design as this collaboration started to evolve technologies for automobiles. 

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