Toshiba SCiB battery cellEnlarge Photo
Electric cars pale in comparison to gasoline or diesel-powered cars when it comes to the time presently required to add energy for more driving distance.
Although automakers have begun to curb "range anxiety" with longer-distance electric cars, battery charging times on lengthy road trips remain a hurdle for many buyers.
The fastest "quick charging" stations presently add 200 to 250 miles in roughly half an hour under optimal circumstances, while gasoline or diesel fuel to attain that range can be pumped into a car in a couple of minutes.
Recently, Toshiba claimed its latest electric-car battery cell would provide a full charge in only six minutes.
The Japanese electronics company revealed its next-generation SCiB battery cell, which it said delivers high energy density from a new material that doubles the capacity of the battery anode.
With a battery pack of cells that include this advance, Toshiba said, a compact electric car could spend just six minutes plugged in to gain 200 miles of range.
Toshiba LogoEnlarge Photo
The capability comes from a next-generation anode material called titanium niobium oxide anode, which allowed the company to double the lithium storage capacity by volume of the graphite-based anodes.
Toshiba's proprietary method includes synthesizing and disarranging crystals of titanium niobium oxide and storing lithium ions more efficiently, which allows for the fast-charging capability.
Engineers tested a 50-amp (0.6 kilowatt-hour) prototype battery with the same technology and, Toshiba said, the results showed the latest anode structure retained the lithium-ion battery's longevity, safe operation, and low temperatures.
Specifically, the prototype retained 90 percent of its capacity after 5,000 charge and discharge cycles; Toshiba says the six-minute fast charging operated in colder conditions, too.
At temperatures below 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit), a full charge took just 10 minutes.
Improvements and revolutions in battery technology have tended to remain incremental, and industry analysts suggest the bulk of electric cars will continue to use lithium-ion cells through 2025.
Toshiba prototype fast-charging batteryEnlarge Photo
Consider research into new solid-state battery cells is now underway, though it is not expected to reach the market until 2020 or later.
Notably, Toyota said earlier this year its upcoming battery-electric car will utilize solid-state batteries.
Battery research requires both fundamental chemistry and replicable advanced fabrication techniques, and automotive applications remain among the most demanding uses for any cells.
As for Toshiba, it plans to make its next-generation fast-charging battery available during its 2019 fiscal year.
[hat tip: Joseph Dubeau]