UNIVERSITY PARK, PA—Engineers at Pennsylvania State University are developing lithium-iron phosphate batteries that have a range of 250 miles and can charge in 10 minutes. They claim the batteries could last up to 2 million miles. The key to long-life and rapid recharging is the battery's ability to quickly heat up and cool down.
"We developed a pretty clever battery for mass-market electric vehicles with cost parity with combustion engine vehicles," claims Chao-Yang Wang, a professor of materials science and engineering who serves as director of the Electrochemical Engine Center at Penn State. "There is no more range anxiety and this battery is affordable.
"The very fast charge allows us to downsize the battery without incurring range anxiety," explains Wang. “The self-heating battery uses a thin nickel foil with one end attached to the negative terminal and the other extending outside the cell to create a third terminal.
“Once electrons flow, it rapidly heats up the nickel foil through resistance heating and warms the inside of the battery,” adds Wang. “[When] the battery's internal temperature is 140 F, the switch opens and the battery is ready for rapid charge or discharge.”
According to Wang, the batteries can produce a large amount of energy upon heating—40 kilowatt hours and 300 kilowatts of power. “An electric vehicle with this battery could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds and would drive like a Porsche,” he points out.