Energy Dept to award $15 million for very fast electric-car charging


AeroVironment DC fast charger, part of West Coast Electric Highway  -  Centralia, WA

AeroVironment DC fast charger, part of West Coast Electric Highway - Centralia, WA

The United States Department of Energy has announced a new funding initiative to accelerate the development of what it calls "Extreme Fast Charging" (XFC) systems.

In total, the DoE will award $15 million for the development of electric-car charging systems as well as batteries capable of very fast charging.

Each area of interest has specific requirements and technical focuses for funding eligibility.

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For the XFC charging systems, the DOE seeks technology that would halve fast-charging times from current charging technology.

Specifically, developers must identify baseline plug-in electric vehicles and propose how XFC will improve charging times, demonstrate the technology, utilize electric currents less than 400 amps, and describe planned charging locations including a detailed impact on the infrastructure required.

Green Car Congress reports developers must also include partnerships with various levels of government, private or non-profit entities, and other potential supporting partners.

 

ECOtality DC fast charger - Portland, OR

ECOtality DC fast charger - Portland, OR

With XFC, the department also wants the battery state of charge to increase by at least 50 percent with a 3C or greater rate of charging.

Numerous companies including automakers are working on what the DoE calls XFC, but it's expected that capable of ultra-fast charging will require new cell chemistries and technologies.

Battery advances occur at a slower pace than, say, microcircuit improvements, but the DoE laid out a few key areas for developers to focus on.

READ THIS: Porsche's 800-Volt fast charging for electric cars: why it matters

Most important, the battery must achieve 500 ultra-fast-charging cycles with less than 20 percent reduction in energy capacity, using a 10-minute fast-charging protocol. 

The department's interests in cell technology include new chemistries for electrodes and electrolytes, along with possible new architectures for the cells themselves.

The department acknowledged slow charging times for electric cars remains a barrier to electric-vehicle ownership.

ECOtality DC fast charger - Portland, OR

ECOtality DC fast charger - Portland, OR

Porsche installed its first prototype 350-kilowatt fast-charging station in Germany earlier this year.

Today, virtually all Combined Charging System (CCS) DC chargers in the U.S. operate at only 50 kilowatts, though in other countries they can transfer power at up to 100 kw.

Porsche thinks its 350-kw system will let electric-car charging become as simple as stopping at a fuel station; the system targets a recharge of 80 percent of battery capacity in around 15 minutes.

CHECK OUT: Porsche prototype 350-kw electric car fast-charging station installed

Unsurprisingly, the investments are high, which may be one reason the DoE put out its $15 million program.

However, Porsche could share its investments in the future if its system were to become a higher-power version of the internationally adopted CCS standard.

While the CHAdeMO standard used in Japan has been adopted primarily by Nissan, the CCS system is used by all German makers and every U.S. automaker save for Tesla.

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