Researchers discover supercapacitor material 'breakthrough' allowing for 10-minute EV...

Polycount

TS Evangelist
Staff member

Electric vehicles (EVs) have been in the spotlight for quite some time now, due in no small part to efforts from companies like Tesla to push green vehicles into the public eye. However, for all the progress EV technology has made over the past few years, traditional gas-powered vehicles have always had one major advantage over their greener cousins as far as range goes.

"Range anxiety" is still a common worry among many potential EV owners, a fear rooted in the belief that long-distance trips won't be possible when switching to an EV. Though modern electric cars are beginning to mitigate some of these concerns by offering 200-350 miles of range on a single charge, long, eight to 12-hour charging times are another challenge the industry hasn't fully overcome yet.

However, that may change soon, according to Engadget. Researchers from Bristol University and Surrey University have reportedly discovered a "breakthrough" in energy storage technology.

This potential advancement is a result of researchers' recent discovery of a new supercapacitor material. In addition to significantly reducing charging times to as little as 10 minutes, this material could give supercapacitors more energy density than traditional lithium-ion batteries.

Specifically, researchers have found their new material can hold roughly 180 watt-hours per kilogram, a major increase over the 100-120 watt-hours per kilogram storage density found in most ordinary EV batteries. Such an improvement could eventually give EVs a sizable range boost, allowing them to "comfortably surpass" the ranges most other EVs are capable of traveling on a single charge.

"These results are extremely exciting and it is hard to believe that we have come so far in such a short time," Surrey University Senior Lecturer Dr. Brendan Howlin said. "We could be at the start of a new chapter in the technology of low cost electric energy storage that could shape the future of industry and society for many years to come."

As intriguing as these findings are, research into the new supercapacitor material is far from finished. The technology must prove to be scalable, cost-effective and sustainable in the long term in order for it to make any significant dent in the EV industry or energy storage as a whole.

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yRaz

Nigerian Prince
I have long been a fan of supercaps instead of batteries in electric cars. They're cheaper and potentially less toxic depending on chemistry. If we get graphine supercaps lithium batteries days are numbered in the EV category. They we're a nessicary stepping stone but ultimately irrelevant. Mobile devices are a different story, though.
 

ChrisH1

TS Addict
Goodness me, the lack of accurate reporting in EV articles never ceases to amaze me. While such batteries/capacitors sound great, right now today we do *not* have 8-12 hour charging times. We have 20-80 minute charging times (at least with Teslas). Sometimes this gets extended to 8-12 hours because the *charging station* can't supply enough power/current, not because of a limitation of the car and its batteries.

No matter how fast your battery/capacitor can potentially charge, you will still be limited to 8-12 hours if that's all your charging station can put out, which is the case for most home ones.

To get a 10 minute charging time, assuming a 100kWh battery, you would have to supply 600kW of power for those 10 minutes - assuming no losses, which isn't possible. Besides needing a whole new infrastructure - the Tesla Superchargers are the most powerful ones I know about, and they do 135kW max (most chademo's are only 50kW), you'd need an enormously heavy cable. The Tesla ones are already 3cm thick at least, and cooled - and correspondingly huge wires from the socket to the battery in the car, and the same again in capacity for every car you wanted to charge at the station. Assuming 10 cars charging at once, that would be 6 megawatts of power!
 

wiyosaya

TS Evangelist
I have long been a fan of supercaps instead of batteries in electric cars. They're cheaper and potentially less toxic depending on chemistry. If we get graphine supercaps lithium batteries days are numbered in the EV category. They we're a nessicary stepping stone but ultimately irrelevant. Mobile devices are a different story, though.
There is quite a bit of research going on in the field - for instance, this was released the same day as the research detailed in this article - https://phys.org/news/2018-02-nature-electrode-boost-supercapacitors.html

I think it is only a matter of time before a supercap is developed that will take the place of batteries, in general. Right now, as I see it, it is hard to tell which research will lead to a usable product.

However, we have this - too - to deal with--
Goodness me, the lack of accurate reporting in EV articles never ceases to amaze me. While such batteries/capacitors sound great, right now today we do *not* have 8-12 hour charging times. We have 20-80 minute charging times (at least with Teslas). Sometimes this gets extended to 8-12 hours because the *charging station* can't supply enough power/current, not because of a limitation of the car and its batteries.

No matter how fast your battery/capacitor can potentially charge, you will still be limited to 8-12 hours if that's all your charging station can put out, which is the case for most home ones.

To get a 10 minute charging time, assuming a 100kWh battery, you would have to supply 600kW of power for those 10 minutes - assuming no losses, which isn't possible. Besides needing a whole new infrastructure - the Tesla Superchargers are the most powerful ones I know about, and they do 135kW max (most chademo's are only 50kW), you'd need an enormously heavy cable. The Tesla ones are already 3cm thick at least, and cooled - and correspondingly huge wires from the socket to the battery in the car, and the same again in capacity for every car you wanted to charge at the station. Assuming 10 cars charging at once, that would be 6 megawatts of power!
Yes, techie sites are ripe with click-bait headlines. In this case, it sounds like the researchers are trying to attract funding.
 
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Tom Thumb

TS Rookie
With all this talk of charging times, impact on the electric distribution infra-structure, etc., I'm beginning to wonder why we are overlooking the alternatives available. The modern medium size family car typical meets the following requirements - a driving range between 250 and 400 miles per fuel fill-up; refuel times that do not exceed ten minutes; no need to install 'at home' refueling stations such as a high capacity electric charger.

The hydrogen electric fuel cell is not new; in the past few years many of the world's largest motor manufacturers have demonstrated hybrid fuel cell/electric motor propulsion cars. Toyota currently sells an attractive hydrogen fuelled family car. Adopting hydrogen as an alternative should mean minimal change, none at home and minimal on the garage forecourt. Adopting hydrogen would allow the driving range, fuel fill-up times and cost per mile to equal or exceed those of current hydrocarbon alternatives. Seems like a win-win situation to me; so what, apart from the reluctance on the part of hydrocarbon fuel owners and refiners to give up their fatted cow, am I missing?
 
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Fobus

TS Addict
With all this talk of charging times, impact on the electric distribution infra-structure, etc., I'm beginning to wonder why we are overlooking the alternatives available. The modern medium size family car typical meets the following requirements - a driving range between 250 and 400 miles per fuel fill-up; refuel times that do not exceed ten minutes; no need to install 'at home' refueling stations such as a high capacity electric charger.

The hydrogen electric fuel cell is not new; in the past few years many of the world's largest motor manufacturers have demonstrated hybrid fuel cell/electric motor propulsion cars. Toyota currently sells an attractive hydrogen fuelled family car. Adopting hydrogen as an alternative should mean minimal change, none at home and minimal on the garage forecourt. Adopting hydrogen would allow the driving range, fuel fill-up times and cost per mile to equal or exceed those of current hydrocarbon alternatives. Seems like a win-win situation to me; so what, apart from the reluctance on the part of hydrocarbon fuel owners and refiners to give up their fatted cow, am I missing?

What are you missing? Well, first off, it's not hydrocarbon alternative, it is the energy source from hydrocarbons, as currently the most economical way to extract hydrogen is through gasification. Second, unlike EVs, which can be charged at practically every home, and who's charging stations are fairly cheap to install and we already have cheap ways to produce electricity, hydrogen needs significantly different and costly distribution system. There's a reason Elon Musk calls fuel cells a fool's cells.
 

Nobina

TS Evangelist
Good, so that means we will have this technology in the near future or is it just one of those breakthroughs that never get anywhere?
 

Tom Thumb

TS Rookie
With all this talk of charging times, impact on the electric distribution infra-structure, etc., I'm beginning to wonder why we are overlooking the alternatives available. The modern medium size family car typical meets the following requirements - a driving range between 250 and 400 miles per fuel fill-up; refuel times that do not exceed ten minutes; no need to install 'at home' refueling stations such as a high capacity electric charger.

The hydrogen electric fuel cell is not new; in the past few years many of the world's largest motor manufacturers have demonstrated hybrid fuel cell/electric motor propulsion cars. Toyota currently sells an attractive hydrogen fuelled family car. Adopting hydrogen as an alternative should mean minimal change, none at home and minimal on the garage forecourt. Adopting hydrogen would allow the driving range, fuel fill-up times and cost per mile to equal or exceed those of current hydrocarbon alternatives. Seems like a win-win situation to me; so what, apart from the reluctance on the part of hydrocarbon fuel owners and refiners to give up their fatted cow, am I missing?

What are you missing? Well, first off, it's not hydrocarbon alternative, it is the energy source from hydrocarbons, as currently the most economical way to extract hydrogen is through gasification. Second, unlike EVs, which can be charged at practically every home, and who's charging stations are fairly cheap to install and we already have cheap ways to produce electricity, hydrogen needs significantly different and costly distribution system. There's a reason Elon Musk calls fuel cells a fool's cells.

So consider this - most families around my part of the town own two cars, three or more if they have young adults; all of whom have jobs and use their Electric Vehicles (EV) to get to work or to go visit on weekends. Electrical energy consumption required for a fast charge is between 8 and 15kVA, less on a slow domestic socket outlet but can require hours to fully charge. So let's say they all opt for fast charge overnight, and assume 12kVA per car, that's 48kVA drawn from the local electricity grid. Currently most domestic homes are fed with a single phase 100 Amp 220 volt supply; I will leave you to consider the cost of re-supplying every home that uses multiple EVs in order to supply the increased distribution capacity. Consider too the local motorway service station and an all or mostly all EV car ownership. My local Motorway service station has four EV charging stations. Now do a quick check on how many cars stop and refuel at the current hydrocarbon fuel pumps (LPG, diesel or petrol) typically six cars a minute, with fuelling taking five minutes per car. Consider the scenario of the backlog as EV cars queue to charge, each taking several tens of minutes, in some cases hours, longer than for hydrocarbon cars and we will have massive queues on the service forecourts and possibly motorway service slip-roads! And please don't tell me we could speed up refuelling EVs if we exchange the batteries rather than recharging them.

I'm all for electric vehicles, they are clean, fast, full of torque, etc; who wouldn't want one? However, all you dreamers need to focus on the portable power source for these EVs and I would suggest hydrogen fuel cells currently offer more hope, and less demands on existing electrical distribution systems than current battery technology. If we can refine and distribute hydrocarbon fuels to the world I can't see why the production and distribution of hydrogen as being an insurmountable problem.
 
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IAMTHESTIG

TS Evangelist
With all this talk of charging times, impact on the electric distribution infra-structure, etc., I'm beginning to wonder why we are overlooking the alternatives available. The modern medium size family car typical meets the following requirements - a driving range between 250 and 400 miles per fuel fill-up; refuel times that do not exceed ten minutes; no need to install 'at home' refueling stations such as a high capacity electric charger.

The hydrogen electric fuel cell is not new; in the past few years many of the world's largest motor manufacturers have demonstrated hybrid fuel cell/electric motor propulsion cars. Toyota currently sells an attractive hydrogen fuelled family car. Adopting hydrogen as an alternative should mean minimal change, none at home and minimal on the garage forecourt. Adopting hydrogen would allow the driving range, fuel fill-up times and cost per mile to equal or exceed those of current hydrocarbon alternatives. Seems like a win-win situation to me; so what, apart from the reluctance on the part of hydrocarbon fuel owners and refiners to give up their fatted cow, am I missing?

What are you missing? Well, first off, it's not hydrocarbon alternative, it is the energy source from hydrocarbons, as currently the most economical way to extract hydrogen is through gasification. Second, unlike EVs, which can be charged at practically every home, and who's charging stations are fairly cheap to install and we already have cheap ways to produce electricity, hydrogen needs significantly different and costly distribution system. There's a reason Elon Musk calls fuel cells a fool's cells.
Well we need to continue working on making hydrogen production a economical process because lithium sources will not last forever and lithium batteries are quite volatile when damaged. I realize hydrogen can also be volatile but at least it is quick and not a cascading disaster like a lithium battery pack fire is.
 

David Rubin

TS Rookie
Goodness me, the lack of accurate reporting in EV articles never ceases to amaze me. While such batteries/capacitors sound great, right now today we do *not* have 8-12 hour charging times. We have 20-80 minute charging times (at least with Teslas). Sometimes this gets extended to 8-12 hours because the *charging station* can't supply enough power/current, not because of a limitation of the car and its batteries.

No matter how fast your battery/capacitor can potentially charge, you will still be limited to 8-12 hours if that's all your charging station can put out, which is the case for most home ones.

To get a 10 minute charging time, assuming a 100kWh battery, you would have to supply 600kW of power for those 10 minutes - assuming no losses, which isn't possible. Besides needing a whole new infrastructure - the Tesla Superchargers are the most powerful ones I know about, and they do 135kW max (most chademo's are only 50kW), you'd need an enormously heavy cable. The Tesla ones are already 3cm thick at least, and cooled - and correspondingly huge wires from the socket to the battery in the car, and the same again in capacity for every car you wanted to charge at the station. Assuming 10 cars charging at once, that would be 6 megawatts of power!
I charge at 4KW overnight. A 12 hour charge can give me up to 210 miles of range. So a family with 3 EVs can all charge simultaneously with 12KW, a much more manageable number than described.
 

mbrowne5061

TS Evangelist
With all this talk of charging times, impact on the electric distribution infra-structure, etc., I'm beginning to wonder why we are overlooking the alternatives available. The modern medium size family car typical meets the following requirements - a driving range between 250 and 400 miles per fuel fill-up; refuel times that do not exceed ten minutes; no need to install 'at home' refueling stations such as a high capacity electric charger.

The hydrogen electric fuel cell is not new; in the past few years many of the world's largest motor manufacturers have demonstrated hybrid fuel cell/electric motor propulsion cars. Toyota currently sells an attractive hydrogen fuelled family car. Adopting hydrogen as an alternative should mean minimal change, none at home and minimal on the garage forecourt. Adopting hydrogen would allow the driving range, fuel fill-up times and cost per mile to equal or exceed those of current hydrocarbon alternatives. Seems like a win-win situation to me; so what, apart from the reluctance on the part of hydrocarbon fuel owners and refiners to give up their fatted cow, am I missing?
Because producing hydrogen is super inefficient. Its less efficient than producing gasoline from crude oil. EVs still top the charts in terms of total "from power plant to road surface" efficiency, because they cut out the middleman. You don't need to produce energy, so you can produce fuel. You just need to produce energy.
 

Tom Thumb

TS Rookie
Goodness me, the lack of accurate reporting in EV articles never ceases to amaze me. While such batteries/capacitors sound great, right now today we do *not* have 8-12 hour charging times. We have 20-80 minute charging times (at least with Teslas). Sometimes this gets extended to 8-12 hours because the *charging station* can't supply enough power/current, not because of a limitation of the car and its batteries.

No matter how fast your battery/capacitor can potentially charge, you will still be limited to 8-12 hours if that's all your charging station can put out, which is the case for most home ones.

To get a 10 minute charging time, assuming a 100kWh battery, you would have to supply 600kW of power for those 10 minutes - assuming no losses, which isn't possible. Besides needing a whole new infrastructure - the Tesla Superchargers are the most powerful ones I know about, and they do 135kW max (most chademo's are only 50kW), you'd need an enormously heavy cable. The Tesla ones are already 3cm thick at least, and cooled - and correspondingly huge wires from the socket to the battery in the car, and the same again in capacity for every car you wanted to charge at the station. Assuming 10 cars charging at once, that would be 6 megawatts of power!
I charge at 4KW overnight. A 12 hour charge can give me up to 210 miles of range. So a family with 3 EVs can all charge simultaneously with 12KW, a much more manageable number than described.
Ah yes the classic description 'up to'; what distance when the battery is being used in the winter - heater, radio operating, headlights and rear window demister on. What is the performance of the battery once it's six months, twelve months, eighteen months and two years old? Even with a brand new battery the drive from Manchester to Dover would be a long trip.

Check out the write up on the thinking behind the Toyota Mirai to see if hydrogen might be the answer to waiting seemingly forever for the perfect battery/capacitive reservoir to go on sale.
 

gamerk2

TS Maniac
With all this talk of charging times, impact on the electric distribution infra-structure, etc., I'm beginning to wonder why we are overlooking the alternatives available. The modern medium size family car typical meets the following requirements - a driving range between 250 and 400 miles per fuel fill-up; refuel times that do not exceed ten minutes; no need to install 'at home' refueling stations such as a high capacity electric charger.

The hydrogen electric fuel cell is not new; in the past few years many of the world's largest motor manufacturers have demonstrated hybrid fuel cell/electric motor propulsion cars. Toyota currently sells an attractive hydrogen fuelled family car. Adopting hydrogen as an alternative should mean minimal change, none at home and minimal on the garage forecourt. Adopting hydrogen would allow the driving range, fuel fill-up times and cost per mile to equal or exceed those of current hydrocarbon alternatives. Seems like a win-win situation to me; so what, apart from the reluctance on the part of hydrocarbon fuel owners and refiners to give up their fatted cow, am I missing?
It's actually very simple: Infrastructure. Electric is simple: Just connect to the already existing grid. Hydrogen? Yeah, no infrastructure to support it. Building it up would take decades and hundreds of billions of dollars that no car company would be willing to invest in it. *Maybe* if the government stepped in and did it hydrogen would take off, but short of that its DOA.

And yes, I still hold Hydrogen Fuel cells are the best possible alternative. But it's not happening without major investment.
 

mailpup

TS Special Forces
It's actually very simple: Infrastructure. Electric is simple: Just connect to the already existing grid. Hydrogen? Yeah, no infrastructure to support it. Building it up would take decades and hundreds of billions of dollars that no car company would be willing to invest in it. *Maybe* if the government stepped in and did it hydrogen would take off, but short of that its DOA.

And yes, I still hold Hydrogen Fuel cells are the best possible alternative. But it's not happening without major investment.
There are a few hydrogen fuel stations but not many although there happens to be a Shell hydrogen station near me. While I might not agree with your view of hydrogen at the moment but I can understand your point.
 

ChrisH1

TS Addict
Ah yes the classic description 'up to'; what distance when the battery is being used in the winter - heater, radio operating, headlights and rear window demister on. What is the performance of the battery once it's six months, twelve months, eighteen months and two years old? Even with a brand new battery the drive from Manchester to Dover would be a long trip.

Check out the write up on the thinking behind the Toyota Mirai to see if hydrogen might be the answer to waiting seemingly forever for the perfect battery/capacitive reservoir to go on sale.
Well, with a Tesla S85D after 2 years my predicted battery range has gone down from 416 to 410km. On a recent trip to Thredbo, driving at freeway speeds, I stopped for a top-up at Goulburn, but kept a keen eye on usage, and based on the theoretically available 75.9 kW/h of the 85 kW/h battery (which does have top and bottom restrictions to help with battery life) I hit exactly 400km, right by the Bredbo Christmas Barn. Of course, there is a bit of up-hill on the way. Heater/aircon, radio, headlights etc makes a lot less difference than you might expect. Very cold winter can drop your range by maybe 25%, especially heavy rain/snow.

If I was driving from Manchester to Dover - 5+ hours I sure wouldn't be driving the whole way without stopping, even if I could! I'd stop for at least one, and possibly two, 20 minute stops at a Tesla Supercharger, there're about a dozen on your way depending on the route you take, e.g.Leamington Spa, Slough, Northhampton, Watford, about a dozen around the periphery at London, or if you came down through Cambridge, Bishops Stotford and so on. https://www.tesla.com/en_AU/findus#/bounds/55.81165979999999,1.7629159000000527,49.8647411,-6.418545799999947?search=supercharger,&name=England, UK
 

Abraka

TS Addict
Did they forget how fast capacitors lose charge? If you fully charge your car and leave it parked for a week, how much of the energy will be lost? Your money disappears in thin air. When the capacitor slowly discharges it's the equivalent of someone stealing gasoline from your car. Except there's no thief to accuse (or shoot).

Supercapacitors would be great for drag-races. They can discharge quickly, provide high energy to the motor, so they would be great for powering a 5 megawatt electric motor to beat the top-fuel dragsters. You don't need a big supercapacitor. Much smaller than needed for a Tesla. All you need is approximately 20 kWh of energy, which is enough for 15 seconds at full power.

Entire drag race takes under 5 seconds, plus you need a few more seconds to warm up the tires (but you don't need full power for that). So a 20 kWh supercapacitor could power a dragster. Don't worry about about self-discharge, because the energy has to stay in the capacitor for just a few minutes.

But for a regular car I doubt supercapacitors will ever replace chemical storage. They self-discharge at a much higher rate than batteries.
 

ChrisH1

TS Addict
So consider this - most families around my part of the town own two cars, three or more if they have young adults; all of whom have jobs and use their Electric Vehicles (EV) to get to work or to go visit on weekends. Electrical energy consumption required for a fast charge is between 8 and 15kVA, less on a slow domestic socket outlet but can require hours to fully charge. So let's say they all opt for fast charge overnight, and assume 12kVA per car, that's 48kVA drawn from the local electricity grid. Currently most domestic homes are fed with a single phase 100 Amp 220 volt supply; I will leave you to consider the cost of re-supplying every home that uses multiple EVs in order to supply the increased distribution capacity. Consider too the local motorway service station and an all or mostly all EV car ownership. My local Motorway service station has four EV charging stations. Now do a quick check on how many cars stop and refuel at the current hydrocarbon fuel pumps (LPG, diesel or petrol) typically six cars a minute, with fuelling taking five minutes per car. Consider the scenario of the backlog as EV cars queue to charge, each taking several tens of minutes, in some cases hours, longer than for hydrocarbon cars and we will have massive queues on the service forecourts and possibly motorway service slip-roads! And please don't tell me we could speed up refuelling EVs if we exchange the batteries rather than recharging them.

I'm all for electric vehicles, they are clean, fast, full of torque, etc; who wouldn't want one? However, all you dreamers need to focus on the portable power source for these EVs and I would suggest hydrogen fuel cells currently offer more hope, and less demands on existing electrical distribution systems than current battery technology. If we can refine and distribute hydrocarbon fuels to the world I can't see why the production and distribution of hydrogen as being an insurmountable problem.
Most of the time people charge their cars up at night. It probably takes 10 hours or so (I don't know, I'm always asleep). There are many reasons besides it's just easier, often night-time power is cheaper. And they don't do it every day, most people don't travel more than about 40 km/day, sometimes I don't charge for 10 days-2 weeks depending. There will be less of the queues of people charging at stations, because unlike ICE cars they don't *need* to. They can do it at home. The only time there are issues are on the mass exodus of holidays - but you start with a full charge then, anyway.