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Battery breakthrough! Electric cars could be charged in as little as three minutes thanks to new solid tech

A new solid-state battery could revolutionise the electric car industry, and is developed by Adden Energy.

Imagine being able to fully charge your electric vehicle quicker than it would take to read this article. That's what US start-up company Adden Energy is promising after a breakthrough in technology that allows a battery to be charged in three minutes.

Adden Energy was founded by scientists at Harvard University who discovered that a new type of solid-state lithium metal battery could not only be charged in three minutes but could be done so 10,000 times - that’s about lifetime of about 20 years.

That’s promising news for a car industry which is about to make the switch to electric vehicles en mass over the next decade, but faces a difficult discussion with customers when it comes to the long time it takes to recharge an electric vehicle's battery.

Currently, charging from empty to full can take hours depending on the car’s technology and the power supply. 

Charging time and capacity is also down to the type of battery. Electric vehicles all use lithium-ion batteries, but new types of batteries are being developed in search of faster charging and longer performance.

The Havard University team who founded Adden Energy have come up with a solid-state battery as opposed to a lithium-ion one. The difference, simply, is that in lithium batteries, the ions move through a liquid or gel electrolyte, while solid-state ones use a hard material to transport these particles.

Adden Energy co-founder and board member Xin Li said the new type of battery is ideal for electric cars.

“If you want to electrify vehicles, a solid-state battery is the way to go,” he said.

“We set out to commercialise this technology because we do see our technology as unique compared to other solid-state batteries. We have achieved in the lab 5,000 to 10,000 charge cycles in a battery’s lifetime, compared with 2,000 to 3,000 charging cycles for even the best in class now, and we don’t see any fundamental limit to scaling up our battery technology. That could be a game changer.”

The batteries Mr Li and his team are working are on a are lab scale - the size of a coin - but Adden Energy hopes to have a full-size battery within three to five years.

The news will come as welcome relief to many prospective EV buyers who don’t have homes where overnight charging is possible.

Adden Energy have come up with a solid-state battery as opposed to a lithium-ion one. Adden Energy have come up with a solid-state battery as opposed to a lithium-ion one.

Adden Energy’s CEO William Fitzhugh said a sizeable number of people in the United States don’t have a place to charge an electric car at their home. The proportion of Australians who don’t have access to charge at home would also be significant.

“Complete electrification of the vehicle fleet is one of the most meaningful steps we can take to fight climate change,” he said. 

“However, broad adoption of electric vehicles requires batteries that can meet a diverse set of consumer needs. For example, 37 per cent of Americans don’t have garages at home, so at-home overnight charging is not possible. In order to electrify this segment, EVs need to recharge at comparable times to internal combustion vehicles, essentially in the time you’d currently spend at the gas pump.”  

The Ioniq 5 is one of the fastest charging electric cars on the market thanks to its 800V charger compatibility and that means it can charge from 10-80 per cent in about 18 minutes using a super-fast 350kW DC charger.

The problem is, these 350kW chargers are rare in Australia and you’ll be more likely to find 50kW DC chargers on offer to the public. Using a 50kW charger, the Ioniq 5 can go from 10-80 per cent in about one hour. 

A home wall unit is often 11kW and using this the Ioniq 5 would take six hours to charge from 10-80 per cent. 

That’s fine if you plug it in overnight to charge while you sleep at home, but nobody would want to have to stand around waiting for it to charge.