Owning an electric vehicle (EV) certainly has its ups, but it also has its downs. One of these downs is range anxiety — the fear of running out of power before getting to an EV charging station.
Now, thanks to Penn State engineers, that fear may be a thing of the past. The team has worked on developing lithium iron phosphate batteries, which offer a 250 mile (402 km) range and charge an EV up in 10 minutes. The new battery is cheaper, and faster to charge.
The team's study was published in Nature Energy on Monday.
"We developed a pretty clever battery for mass-market electric vehicles with cost parity with combustion engine vehicles," said Chao-Yang Wang, director of the Electrochemical Engine Center at Penn State.
The team's battery should be good to last two million miles in its lifetime.
What makes this battery so fast and so affordable, yet still offering good range for EVs, is its ability to heat up quickly to 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celcius) for the charge and discharge, and then to cool down just as quickly.
This means the team could downsize the battery without worrying about adding range anxiety. "This battery has reduced weight, volume, and cost," said Wang. "I am very happy that we finally found a battery that will benefit the mainstream consumer mass market."
Once heated up, these batteries provide a decent amount of power: 40 kilowatt hours, and 300 kilowatts of power. An EV fitted out with this battery would be able to go from zero to 60 mph (96 km/h) in three seconds, and would "drive like a Porsche," according to Wang.
Wang's team's motivation behind this project was clear, "This is how we are going to change the environment and not contribute to just the luxury cars," said Wang. "Let everyone afford electric vehicles."
This isn't the only team working on improving the range, cost, and charging times of EV batteries. Aptera's team has developed an EV that doesn't, in fact, require any charging — it uses the power of the sun from solar panels on its roof to charge up. And Toyota is working on launching a new EV this year with a 10 minute charging time, too.