Artificially intelligent algorithms were used by Eric Dufek and his colleagues at the Idaho National Laboratory to examine how changing factors like current and voltage affect battery aging over time. “You can do things like ramping voltage, or sequentially decreasing what the voltage or current looks like,” says Dufek.
The team developed a new battery charging protocol that can charge a conventional electric vehicle battery from empty to 90% in 10 minutes while preserving the battery’s long-term health by using computer models and testing the results on actual batteries.
Gil Tal from the University of California, Davis, who was not involved in the study, notes that a typical charging process typically begins at low power and ramps up but then starts dropping the power again at 60 or 70 percent battery charge to reduce unnecessary stress on the battery. “What [these researchers] are trying to do is to optimise this curve to get more time with higher power,” says Tal.
Additionally, Feng Lin at Virginia Tech, who was not also involved with the experiment, explained that fast charging and battery health must be balanced by providing an analogy with a door, “If all 100 people rush into the room, we’re going to get stuck and we don’t get as many people into the room within that short amount of time, so you get lower capacity with fast charging. There is also a chance that when you rush so many people into a room, the door might be broken, so the battery materials can potentially be damaged.”
Since the underlying chemistry of lithium-based batteries is the same, much of what has been discovered so far about the improved protocol will apply to many of the numerous battery types used in electric vehicles, according to Dufek.
Although the work was already presented at the American Chemical Society Fall 2022 meeting in August, it is still worth noting that the newly developed charging protocol would still need to be modified by each manufacturer based on the distinct battery pack designs they use.