Extreme-fast battery charge aims to fire up electric cars

What do you think about slower charging in terms of EC adoption?

I think it’s the number one barrier today. It used to be cost, but we’re already seeing with the accelerated adoption that people can afford electric vehicles – especially when they consider cost of ownership, Daren said, HyperCharge’s founder.

It’s not just the speed of charging that creates a barrier and inconvenience, it’s also the availability of it, people’s proximity to, and mostly the psychology around it – this is where ‘range anxiety’ enters the equation. The notion that you can get stuck on the highway with no power is naturally scary to people. There is also maybe a new phenomenon that we’re calling ‘charging anxiety’, where drivers can actually reach a charging station without issue, but then face a long wait to be able to charge because there aren’t enough charging stations or there aren’t enough fast chargers.

Whatever the problem, it creates anxiety and that’s a huge barrier to EV adoption at the moment. People prefer to stick to the familiar, which is why our mission at HyperCharge is to try to keep the driver experience exactly like re-fuelling a petrol or diesel vehicle.

How can extreme-fast charging batteries help with some of these issues, and how is range affected with this technology?
There are inherent trade-offs with EV batteries in general between energy density – which effects range – the lifecycle of the battery, and then the cost.

Extreme-fast charging batteries are manufactured using some materials that there aren’t an abundance of, meaning the batteries cannot be mass produced. By definition, that increases costs – even if that additional cost is just five or 10 per cent, it’s still there.

Trying to deliver five to 10-minute charging, offering the same range as is currently available and doing it at the lowest possible cost is a real challenge. We’re dealing with chemistry, and that means making some sacrifices along the way – unfortunately there is no magic bullet that solves everything.

What we have done in our batteries is eliminate the use of graphite in the anode, which basically determines the rate of charging. A few years ago, Samsung had huge issues with its Note 7 smartphones basically exploding in some instances because graphite is not designed for fast charging. Replacing graphite with metalloids, such as silicon, is a very serious and important transition in battery technology, and it’s designed to do one of two things: either improve energy density or leverage the capability of ion diffusion to improve charging times.

Tesla is using this process to provide additional energy, adding more and more silicon to the anode in order to improve the energy density. HyperCharge is taking a different direction for extreme-fast charging. We can’t do both at the same time, so we are giving up some of the range – maybe 10-15 per cent – but we are giving it to you in five minutes.