back to article Inventor of the graphite anode – key Li-ion battery tech – says he can now charge an electric car in 10 minutes

Morocco-born Dr Rachid Yazami has lived all over the world, thanks to an invention he made in his first year as a PhD student – the graphite anode – which is one of the key components that make lithium-ion batteries perform so well. With electric vehicles on the rise, he believes the invention will soon take you everywhere, …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wow, and he hopes to improve lifespan so that I'd only have to throw away my car every ten years! Technology is so green and wonderful!

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      I must not feed the trolls

      I must not feed the trolls

      I must not feed the trolls

      1. sev.monster Bronze badge
        Headmaster

        I must not misgender my cabinetry

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          It's my protruding knobs that confuse'em.

          1. sev.monster Bronze badge

            Will pulling on one open it up or turn it on? A confusing user interface.

    2. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Yeh, I chuck my watch away when the battery runs flat.

      I'm not convinced fast charging it the answer to all electric cars usability. The London Electric Tram Company used to be able to turn around a tram in 3 minutes around 1910. I'm sure with a little thought and a few standards you could have thousands of places around the UK where you could swap in a 150 miles or so while having a lash.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Fast charge is a niche for people on long trips

        Most cars will only rarely need fast charging.

        It only matters if you have run your battery flat and need to continue driving. If you drive less than your range per day you can charge overnight. Obviously there are some logistical issues like people who park in the street overnight, but most areas with street parking have street lights so electric is already available meaning there is no need to dig up streets. Just need to provide plugs and a way to bill for it.

        It could also easily be provided in parking lots / ramps at destinations where people park for work, shopping, entertainment, etc. so charging where you live isn't really necessary you just need it at one end or another of a common destination you will spend sufficient time at.

        1. Tom Chiverton 1

          Re: Fast charge is a niche for people on long trips

          "most areas with street parking have street lights "

          And when everyone needs to charge every night (or two) ? Where is the grid power coming from ? Who's going to be sued first when someone trips over the rats nest of charge cables ?

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Fast charge is a niche for people on long trips

            Well unless everyone switches to electric cars all at once there will be many years to provide the necessary capacity.

            How much power has been saved over the past couple decades switching from inefficient lighting to LEDs? How much remains to be saved from lighting that isn't yet converted to LED? How much power did a 25" tube TV use compared to today's TVs despite their larger size? How many inefficient buildings that were poorly insulated have been improved, and how many remain to be improved?. How many climate control systems are there that could be improved in efficiency by using heat pumps or better yet ground source heat pumps?

        2. jtaylor Bronze badge

          Re: Fast charge is a niche for people on long trips

          "most areas with street parking have street lights so electric is already available"

          It won't work unless you can bill for the electric use.

          In my US city, many newer street lights are powered off a solar panel on top. The reason is actually quite simple. If residents of a neighborhood want more lighting, they can ask their councilmember to request funding for, say, 3 new streetlamps and approval to pay for the power from the municipal electric (operating) budget, then put them on the public works list to connect power then install the lamp itself, which all takes years, or.....just add 3 solar-powered LED streetlamps in the next budget and schedule installation.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: Fast charge is a niche for people on long trips

            It won't work unless you can bill for the electric use

            Well there's this thing called the internet, which can be accessed via this other thing called cellular. You might want to look into it, it will make billing quite simple.

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        That option is basically going to be battery leasing. It could work, but it's so rarely needed by most that it's not a great option.

        If you can charge at 350kW, which is fast becoming the new standard you can add 1200 to 1500 miles an hour... And remember this is only something that is likely on v long journeys (i.e. at a time when you need a break to relieve yourself, rent more coffee and have some food).

        I don't particularly see the need for 800 mile batteries, it's completely overkill almost all the time - and adds cost and mass to a vehicle that doesn't need it. 400 mile battery with the capability of charging from 50m to 350m in 13 minutes would be far more sensible (it halves the cost of the battery if nothing else).

        Remember that you don't have to supervise a charger like you do a petrol pump.

        A 15 minute stop every 4-5 hours is hardly crippling to a journey.

        1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Why not use appropriate technology?

          50 miles of batteries (not caned to death to get huge acceleration) and a small engine for long journeys, that can maintain a speed of 60-70mph. You just can't beat the energy density of hydrocarbons.

          The emissions are low, as "most people do short journeys".

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Why not use appropriate technology?

            The emissions are low, as "most people do short journeys".

            Cat Convertors work when they are warmed up. If you only ever do less than 10 miles per journey, the emissions are much,. much higher per mile than those doing longer journeys.

            1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

              Re: Why not use appropriate technology?

              Yeah, but on a short journey, the engine never starts at all. That being the point of a plug-in hybrid.

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: Why not use appropriate technology?

                Why lug around an engine and all that complexity when you don't need to.

                The increased efficiency of large engines running in controlled conditions will offset transmission losses, and that's in the worst case when you don't account for any non fossil fueled power generation in the country. (25-35% for most small petrol engines, 35-50% for modern power plants)

              2. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: Why not use appropriate technology?

                I quite like the idea of aluminium air batteries as a range extender.

                At around 1kWh/kg already, with 2 being projected (and 8 being the theoretical limit) with a relatively easy fuel/refuel system (you'd need to recycle the hydroxide to make it feasible) you don't win any overall efficiency prizes, but... if you're using it as a range extender on rare long journeys rather than as a the primary drive source... then I think it could make some sense (though improvements to charging are almost completely eliminating the issue, I still like the idea of a drop in N00 mile pack.

                It would also be something that you could reasonably carry one round permanently - no more range anxiety, because your 'backup pack' is enough to do hours of driving, and it's significantly lighter than an engine or any lithium ion battery pack.

                A standardised 25kg unit to be swapped in and out would get you 100 miles currently, 200 projected, 800 theoretical - you could easily have a set of slots for those nice to be able to deplete one completely before swapping it back out.

                You don't need to carry them around most of the time, then you drop in the battery, drive - use it to recharge the Li-ion battery, or just to do the baseload of the driving, and then return the battery at the far end in the same way that you return a calor gas canister when it's been used.

              3. This post has been deleted by its author

          2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: Why not use appropriate technology?

            60-70mph will likely get you killed on a US Interstate. Most of the Interstate network has a nominal speed limit higher than 60mph, a good portion is higher than 70mph, and most people are exceeding the limit anyway.

            A couple of years back I was on a stretch of Interstate in Oklahoma which was prominently signed as "80 MPH, zero tolerance" or words to that effect. I was sticking to 80 and everyone else was blasting by me at 90 or higher.

            Now that ordinary passenger cars are ridiculously overpowered, it's simply not safe to take a vehicle on US highways unless it's very large or can easily sustain at least 70mph. And I wouldn't be comfortable in a small car that couldn't get up to that speed by the end of the on-ramp, and for many parts of the network I'd want it to sustain 75mph at a minimum.

        2. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          And remember this is only something that is likely on v long journeys (i.e. at a time when you need a break to relieve yourself, rent more coffee and have some food).

          I frequently make "v long journeys", and when I stop it's for no more than 15 minutes or so. I'm not keen on adding hour-long stops to a 14-to-18 hour trip, thanks.

          I don't particularly see the need for 800 mile batteries.

          You misread (or there was a correction after you read), as the article currently says 800km, not miles: "ten minutes of charge for a range of 800km".

          That would actually meet my use case, if there were ample charging stations along the various routes I might be taking. Which will not happen soon. And I'd be concerned about battery lifetime and degradation over that lifetime, and the replacement cost. And, honestly, I don't see anyone creating an EV that doesn't have horrible features I don't want, like touchscreens, so I probably will never buy one.

          I still think swappable batteries makes more sense. But then I also think dual-powertrain hybrids are idiotic, and onboard ICE electric generation with an electric drivetrain makes a hell of a lot more sense, so what do I know?

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            I may well have misread - 800km is alot less than 800 miles, I still think it's probably excessive for the vast majority, but it's quite possible to have vehicles with different battery capacities available for those who are willing to pay the extra.

            Parallel hybrid trains are odd, I quite liked the explanation that Technology Connections gave about the volt's series hybrid layout, and that was a sane layout. The electric drive train does make some sense, but really - batteries aren't nearly as bad as you think they are.

            If you are only stopping for 15 minutes in an 18 hour trip then you aren't getting nearly enough break to drive that journey safely - I assume you are making multiple such stops, but even so - driving for basically 18 hours straight isn't safe, and for various classes of vehicle isn't legal - that's at least two days (10 hours max each) of driving, with a required rest of 8.5 hours (three per week, the rest must be 10 hours).

            So let's take a 16 hour road trip... at 70mph that's 1120 miles.

            Looking at 350kW charging and 4m/kWh that's a total of 48 minutes of charging.

            Except of course that you don't need to wait to fill up to start, nor do you require a full battery at the end - so you get "one battery charge" of range for free.

            A 300 mile battery would therefore take just 35 minutes of charging on a 16 hour journey.

            Take some number between those as a your estimate, depending on your tolerance for the orange fuel light.

  2. Eric Olson
    Happy

    Oh no, it's a battery story

    In before the "battery advances never pan out" commentards.

    I always have wondered about that. All the stories of advances in battery tech, chemistry, charge cycles, etc., and so many people immediately say, "Bah, it won't happen, just like all the ones before."

    But if they really were increasing energy density at 80% per yr until 2016 or so, you've gotta imagine a lot of those did make it into production, and just added to the overall amazingness of Li-ion batteries. Not to mention the reduction in cost. I mean, I can literally buy a 6Ah battery from Sparkfun for $30 USD and have it here before the end of the week. And it's only about 3" x 2"... that's impressive.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Oh no, it's a battery story

      Quite. More to the point, this guy has actually made stuff that is in use and knows what he's talking about, and it's not a marketing fluff piece. Good interview, thanks.

    2. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Oh no, it's a battery story

      It was 8% per year.

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Oh no, it's a battery story

        Still solid progress.

  3. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

    ...cue digging up of sea floors for lithium and other rare earths; the death of all humans not in deep bunkers or space.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "the death of all humans not in deep bunkers or space."

      Hmmmm...that almost make $28m for a trip with Bezos sensible.....naaaahhhh!!!

    2. ponga

      Lithium is an alkali metal, not a RE. In related news (possibly fluff, but I'm somewhat hopeful): https://phys.org/news/2021-06-electrochemical-cell-harvests-lithium-seawater.html

  4. G R Goslin

    There still remains......

    ....the problem of where to get the electricity from, and in this case, a further problem of where do you get it from in the enormous amperages you will need to re-charge a cars batteries in ten minutes.. Even ten minutes for a full charge is still more than twice as long as it would take for the equivalent amount of petrol, or diesel fuel to be pumped into a cars tanks.

    1. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: There still remains......

      This is ALL very true. Very often fossil fuel plants are the ONLY ones capable of handling that kind of electrical demand. There is NOT enough solar radiation on the planet to power cars, whether it is collected via solar panels, wind, or falling water.

      The only real solution (if you are trying to eliminate fossil fuels, a position I wholeheartedly disagree with) is FUSION energy, which is the only thing that would make electric vehicles practical AND universal. The second possibility is FISSION energy, until we have working fusion plants.

      (Other implications are obvious)

      I would like to see worldwide fusion energy. I see it as the cleanest and most abundant form of electrical production. But nothing comes without cost. The question is whether the extremists are willing to shut up about their extremism long enough to get it done.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Boffin

        Re: There still remains......

        There is NOT enough solar radiation on the planet to power cars, whether it is collected via solar panels, wind, or falling water.

        I don't want to poke fun, but I'd advise doing the maths.

        1. bombastic bob Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: There still remains......

          @tfb - ok - here's some math

          According to one source, 173 terawatts of semi-usable and otherwise unusable energy strikes the sunny side of the earth continuously. Only a fraction of this can be practically turned into electricity, when you consider solar panel efficiency, infrastructure, cabling, conversion and transmission losses, and unpredictable weather. And we can't cover every square meter with solar panels, so most will be unavailable for use. So we're limited by the flux (energy per square meter), and the ability of our tech to turn that into electricity [when the weather is nice].

          It takes about 30-50kwh of energy (let's say) to charge a typical electric car daily to support average commutes (let's say an hour each way) in California, based on claims of battery capacity and range and some ballpark atmospheric extrapolation.

          A solar panel that is one square meter (on a good day, at a good time) could produce 200W (and in 8 hours, 1.6kwh). Angle of the sun and day/night limits this effective time period.

          with 10 million commuters in California, for 300 million kwh, you would need at LEAST 200 million square meters of panel if you get 8 hours of usable sun each day (or equivalent). More than likely you'll need at least TWICE that and some means of backup power for extended bad weather.

          For a single family house, it would mean 20-40 square meters of panels per car JUST to power the cars, assuming good weather all of the time and hyper-efficient storage to handle the peak demand of having your car plugged in every day. That's a lot of panels for one house, bad weather notwithstanding. Apartment buldings with multiple floors would be even LESS practical.

          Many places (mountains, lakes, forests, roads, agriculture areas, etc.) could NEVER have solar panels on them. Power loss in conversion and transmission forces you to have the generators reasonably close to the point of demand.

          In short, claiming that the sun shines 10,000 times the energy needed by human electrical demand onto the planet is EXTREMELY short sighted and does NOT take into consideration what it would require to harness it (nor the efficiency). You just can't put solar panels EVERYWHERE and expect it to work. It's just not practical. [I used to run a nuclear reactor on a submarine, including the electrical power plant, and worked in the power industry for a while, so I have a pretty good idea about a lot of this].

          My conclusion: there is NOT enough energy being produced by the sun in order to meet the demands of human electrical power, if you include all of the cars and our needs (and desires) for transportation, and factor in the needs to convert, transmit, and store this power to meet demand.

          Hence, we need to use Nuclear, Fusion, or even fossil fuels until we have a technology that's better than what's available now. Keep in mind, with fast-charge high capacity batteries (which we do not have yet) and some form of nuclear power (which is being resisted on every level from what I see) to charge them, electric cars make sense. Without all that, they do not.

          (I really didn't want to get this wordy, but it looks like I had to)

          1. DM2012

            Re: There still remains......

            You had me at "I used to run a nuclear reactor on a submarine"

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: There still remains......

            "(I really didn't want to get this wordy, but it looks like I had to)"

            Impressive! Well thought through, well explained, and you only used ALL CAPS in the relevant and correct places :-)))))

          3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

            Re: There still remains......

            Yeah. I'd quibble about the original statement, but as a gloss for "the amount of solar energy that we can store and use with existing technology in an economically feasible manner" it seems pretty reasonable.

            Personally, I don't see how we'll solve the energy problem without wider use of at least one of the better fission designs. Don't much care if it's CANDU or pebble-bed or traveling-wave or thorium or whatever, as long as it's commercially viable, fails cold, and produces less waste – and those all are achievable. Nothing else looks feasible to me.

            This isn't an area I have any expertise in, though.

          4. jgoggins

            Re: There still remains......

            You're sums are way out. I mean WAY out.

            Without being quantitive, imagine looking at the earth from space - and think of the mass of all the tiny little cars and trucks whizzing about. Are you honestly claiming all the energy hitting the earth - energy which is enough to grow rainforests, cause oceans to circulate, evaporates 434,000 cubic km of water, creates wind, etc. would not be enough to push these little vehicles around?

            If you want sums. Back of fag-packet style:

            There's about 1,250 billion litres of petrol/gasoline consumed in a year globally.

            The litres/100 km for a new ICE vehicle sold in Europe is about 10 - but given that globally the fleet is older and less efficient, I'm going to bump this up to 15.

            This number wasn't chosen randomly as typically 15 KWh in a BEV will take you 100km which makes the sums easy.

            So 1,250 billion litres of petrol will take you roughly the same distances as 1,250 billion * 1Kwh of electricity which is about 1,250 TWh in a year.

            But in 2020, just in the OECD countries, there were 3,269.1 TWh of renewable electricity generated. So between a half and third of the CURRENT global renewable electricity generated would provide enough energy to completely replace every petrol engine on the planet. That's right now.

            Now how much of the potential renewable energy are we currently exploiting?

            Your conclusion is out by multiple orders of magnitude.

        2. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

          Re: There still remains......

          There's not enough available solar energy, in the right place, to power all of this stuff.

          Plus it's a bit iffy at night.

          And it covers up land that you might, say, grow food one.

          And PV cells aren't the cleanest things to make, either.

          So it's not just a matter of W/m2

    2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: There still remains......

      Where you get the power from depends on your geographic location, before you're tempted to go down the road of "it call comes from coal anyway" path. And amperage isn't the issue - the CCS charger plug is rated for 500A, but no-one's going to shift that due to cable losses. The way to increase charging speed is upping the volts. But sure, we need more wattage.

      How much? Rather sadly I worked this out a while back.

      Filling petrol from a pump gives you approximately 38l/minute x 8.76kWh/l = 20MW charging rate. Doing that with an EV is going to be quite something.

      But, petrol cars are way less efficient. A better comparison is if you car delivers (say) 7km/l, you're putting in 266km/minute. With a Nissan Leaf at about 150Wh/km, to match that you need a charging rate of 2.4MW. The maximum chargers I know of are 350kW, so that's about an order of magnitude improvement required to roughly hit parity with petrol. With the kind of advances described in this article, very possible - 10 years ago 50kW charging was state of the art.

      Yes I'm aware all of these are approximate, and your car is a great counter-example which you'd like to share. It's a back of the envelope thing to get a rough idea, not an exact number.

      1. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: There still remains......

        I have no doubt that a 2.4MW charger is perfectly feasible. But supplying many such chargers with 2.4MW of electrical energy each is not feasible - not from the national grid anyway. Very few of our distribution transformers are big enough to cope with that sort of loading, even for a few minutes.

        No, I said long ago that the only practical way to go is to have fast battery *swapping* rather than fast battery charging. Automatically measure the remaining charge in the battery being swapped out and the actual capacity of the charged battery, with the customer paying for the difference.

        Then physically ship the discharged batteries from the filling stations to & from various specialist bulk battery charging locations that are close to a source of cheap power (e.g. hydro or nuclear) for charging during off-peak times. Charging time per battery then becomes unimportant, and no upscaling of the national grid is required. Keeping the power stations on full load 24/7 makes them more efficient.

        1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

          Re: There still remains......

          What we need to do is to install a large coal power station at every p̶e̶t̶r̶o̶l̶ 'refueling' station.

        2. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: There still remains......

          Sorry, disagree with that. I'll bow to your knowledge on the national grid transformers, but if required - me that replacing a few hundred of them is still better than trying to standardize on an international standard for batteries.

          Because what you're describing involves somehow designing a chassis that allows for the batteries to be easily and quickly removed. You've turned a hard problem of moving large amount of electricity into the much harder problem of designing an automated machine to extracting large numbers of batteries quickly, without jamming, from a large number of different chassis types and shapes, replacing them just as quickly, and making sure all the connections between cells are robust enough to handle the shakes of a moving vehicle. As problems go, solving the grid issue is easier.

          (oh, and you can't measure state of charge in an LiFePo4 cell. The only way to estimate the charge is coulomb counting)

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge
            Devil

            Re: There still remains......

            an international standard for batteries would be less important than a universal standard for charging connections. Sorta like using USB-C connectors except it's a car. The power source would know its own limits, and query the limits of the car, and give you a voltage+current that is appropriate.

            the car would be responsible for converting that power into battery voltage and charging correctly, like your phone.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: There still remains......

              Check out J1772 and IEC 61851.

              USB is a good analogy, there are so many similar standards to choose from right now.

              There are pros and cons for how much lives in the vehicle and how much lives in the charger, of course.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: There still remains......

          "But supplying many such chargers with 2.4MW of electrical energy each is not feasible - not from the national grid anyway."

          One concept to alleviate this concern is to put a battery bank at the charging station. The 2.4 MW comes (mostly] from the bank of batteries, not from the grid. See one of the recent issues of IEEE Vehicular Technology Magizine for a write up on an actual implementation.

        4. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: There still remains......

          "Then physically ship the discharged batteries from the filling stations to & from various specialist bulk battery charging locations"

          Ignoring any of the other potential impracticalities, it would make more sense to charge the batteries at the "filling" station. Charging can happen 24/7, but customers are only queueing up during relatively short parts of the day. Also, as mentioned, many people will never need the facility at all because they only need a minor low current top-up either at home overnight, in the car park at work or in the shopping centre.

          1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

            Re: There still remains......

            > Also, as mentioned, many people will never need the facility at all because they only need a minor low current top-up either at home overnight, in the car park at work or in the shopping centre.

            So all petrol stations except motorway services go bankrupt. Fine, except for when you're stuck for a charge.

      2. Dale 3

        Re: There still remains......

        Those numbers are likely for the current model of filling up to the top and then running down to almost empty, which we do because of the relative inconvenience of having to go to a petrol station every so often. But the electric charging model doesn't have to be like that. With charging points able to be so much more ubiquitous, cars could be topped-up just about every time and everywhere you park. Perhaps even automatically with wireless charging in parking bays (even at traffic lights?) It doesn't always need to be high-capacity high-speed empty-to-full charging.

        Of course this doesn't suit every use. Long distance trips benefit from fast charges - the faster the better, but a 10 minute break every 800km seems reasonable.

        I wouldn't mind a bit of lateral thinking - how about a Eurotunnel-like roll-on-roll-off train that gets you most of the way to your long-distance destination, faster than a motorway, and charges your car while you take a nap, grab a snack from the restaurant upstairs or watch the scenery go by? Eurotunnel is remarkably efficient once you get past the whole check-in and queuing bit, while at the other end you're off and on the A16 in minutes.

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: There still remains......

          Yes, absolutely agree with this. The very, very few times I've had to charge away from home it's been on motorways at a limited number of points, for long trips. It's no-ones preferred option.

          Fast charging is important, but nowhere near as important as ensuring every new build, and every lampost in cities, has a slow charger (3kW would do). Lampost charging, ideally a city-wide scheme tied where you register the VIN number of your car, so so there's no fussing with cards.

          I also like the idea of a truck filled with hydrogen fuel cells doing the rounds as a temporary charge station at festivals etc. - a mobile EV charging station. Would be a good little business I expect. Well, until the first one unexpectedly goes boom.

          1. a_builder

            Re: There still remains......

            I agree.

            I rarely charge my Tesla on the Super Chargers even though I have lifetime free charging with the car.

            Mostly it trickle charges on the lamppost outside my house which does 5.5kW or at the office where I can get 7kW or 22kW at our warehouse.

            Honestly provided you are not the kind of person who runs a car until the fuel light comes on you will be fine with an EV.

            The trick is just to trickle charge it whenever there is an opportunity and keep say 100 miles charge on it so if you need to you can get to a Super Charger and then zoom down the motorway to the next Super Charger.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: There still remains......

            "Lampost charging"

            There's two issue there that need to be dealt with. As new old lampposts are being replaced with LED ones, the better lighting and directional arrays are further apart than the originals, so few possible charging places. And currently, in the UK at least, local councils are charged for lamppost lighting power by counting the types and numbers of lampposts in their jurisdiction. They aren't metered. So it's lot more than just fitting an outlet onto each lamppost. You need to add in a meter and comms to every one. I'm not even going to go near "charger rage" as people with topped up cars refuse to move their car at 3am because there's nowhere nearby to move to so someone else can charge their car!

            It's still doable, but not as cheap and easy to roll out as some may think.

        2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: There still remains......

          "I wouldn't mind a bit of lateral thinking - how about a Eurotunnel-like roll-on-roll-off train that gets you most of the way to your long-distance destination, faster than a motorway, and charges your car while you take a nap, grab a snack from the restaurant upstairs or watch the scenery go by? Eurotunnel is remarkably efficient once you get past the whole check-in and queuing bit, while at the other end you're off and on the A16 in minutes."

          While I admire your thinking, I'd argue that in many cases, train travel is often way more expensive than driving, especially if there 2 or people in the party, and that;s just for train travel with people, never mind taking your car on the train too. And that's before we even start to address the fact the main lines are already at or close to running capacity.

          Most of my job involves driving fairly long distances. I can't see trains taking enough cars of the motorways to make much of a difference. Moving shipping containers from the backs of trucks and onto trains would make a bigger difference. Except it's cheaper and easier to ship point to point on a truck than to ship to station, transship to a train, and then again at the other end. Especially with the lack of storage at manufactures and customers because they've all embraced JiT to some extent or another.

          Rail freight or car shipping by train is not going to work in a small country such as the UK, the Channel Tunnel being the one exception, partly at least because they didn't build an alternative.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: There still remains......

            "While I admire your thinking, I'd argue that in many cases, train travel is often way more expensive than driving"

            Absolutely - but it doesn't need to be, train travel should be significantly cheaper than basically any other form of transport.

      3. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: There still remains......

        The time is also completely wasted at a petrol pump, whilst my car is charging I can go and charge myself, and relieve myself of the waste from the previous charge.

      4. G R Goslin

        Re: There still remains......

        .....But, petrol cars are way less efficient. A better.....You're making a very common mistake. Because, with petrol/diesel, the power is generated at the point of use, it does not mean that you can ignore the inefficiencies of power generation at a remote location. Natural Laws, which unlike man-made laws, cannot be broken, are the same in both cases. You cannot ignore the one and hold up the other as being the only area of inefficiency. The plumes of steam seen over the power stations coolling towers, tell of energy thrown away. The hiss and buzz when near electrical power lines, is an indication of coronal discharges of energy. Energy transmission over the most efficient common conductor (High purity copped cables) that we have, nevertheless, do lose a significant proportion of the energy they carry, over extended distances. Energy that the producers would dearly like to realise,

        1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

          Re: There still remains......

          This discussion is specifically about energy transfer by the consumer at the point of charge. Grid inefficiencies, grid fuel mix, energy used in refining to petrol, or shipping the oil to the refinery, or used in invading a country to secure the oil, etc etc are well out of scope.

          But, as you bring it up, UK grid losses for last year were 2.24%.

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: There still remains......

          I have made the point many times that the thermal efficiency of a large engine is far superior to that of a typical small engine.

          So even if you used petrol to generate the electricity and then sent it over the grid... you can still end up with more miles to the gallon.

          The point here was that you aren't filling up with several MW of useful power, you are filling up with miles.

          In the EV world at 350kW that's ~1400 mph filling rate without needing supervision.

          In the dino juice world...

          Pumps deliver something like 40l/minute, 2400l/hour - 45mpg is just under 12mpl, ~ 28,000 mph, but need constant supervision.

          Ok, so that's 20 times faster... But 90+% of vehicle charging isn't happening at rapid chargers - it happens with zero time cost (overnight at home).

          Sample size of one: I use rapid chargers for just two of the journeys that I make regularly, one journey is made once per year, and needs one partial charge for the round trip (unless I stay somewhere I can use a three pin plug overnight), the other needs ~160 miles of rapid charging each way, with ~140 miles coming from overnight charging at either end.

          So out of my typical 12k miles/year, only 1k (250kWh) is done using rapid chargers.

          8% of my charging is rapid... the other 92% is effectively zero time.

          So that's <1 hour of charging (assuming 350kW and 4m/kWh) per year

    3. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: There still remains......

      Just the power transfer is an issue. When you are pumping gasoline into your gas tank, the energy transfer rate (which is power) converted to watts is about 13 megawatts if it takes 10 seconds to pump a gallon of gas, which is the standard for gas pumps in the US.

      That is precisely why it only takes a few minutes to put 300 miles of range into your gasoline powered car.

      1. DS999 Silver badge

        Re: There still remains......

        If the voltage is high enough you could theoretically get 13 megawatts into a car without unduly thick cables. Though you don't need to fill as fast as gasoline since you can be a little slower than filling up a gas tank because fast charges of cars will be a pretty rare event. It is only something you need to do on a long trip. If you can drive for 300-400 miles or so a 10-15 minute wait isn't THAT big of a deal. You will need to piss, eat, stretch your legs, take a selfie and lie to your Instagram followers about where you are going, etc.

        1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
          Boffin

          Re: There still remains......

          A present day Level 3 charger is only about 0.035MW (35kW). Replacing gas stations with facilities capable of charging say, 10 cars at something like 10MW per car is beyond what the present grid can handle. That's 0.1GW per gas station equivalent.

          1. DS999 Silver badge

            Re: There still remains......

            If the power is drawn directly from the grid, sure. The grid connection is charging a big bank of batteries that do the charging you can support a peak use of 10 cars charging without needing a grid connection that supports more than 1 car charging - whatever your 24 hour average number of cars charging at once is.

            If all those batteries sound expensive they would be, but they could be subsidized by the utility. The grid will need a lot of storage capacity in the future so you can store power from renewable sources when the sun is shining and wind is blowing to use when it is not, so it makes sense for those batteries to serve more than one purpose.

            FWIW I thought we had some 350 KW chargers now, which is supposedly 125 miles in under 10 minutes. So doubling that again is probably all we really need. The main limit today isn't so much how much power you can put in, but how much power the batteries can accept without overheating or reducing their lifetime to an unacceptable degree. A 10 MW charger does you no good if the car will catch fire at that rate.

            1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge
              Boffin

              Re: There still remains......

              I own a Chevy Bolt EV. I have only seen as high as Level 3 chargers, and those are 35kW. My Level 2 at home (or Chargepoint at work) is 7kW. The Level 1 that I carry in the car is about 1.5kW.

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: There still remains......

                350kW is becoming pretty common.

                The bolt may not accept such a high charging rate of course (my car is limited to 50kW).

            2. Diogenes

              Re: There still remains......

              but they could be subsidized by the utility.

              ... and where does the utility get the money to be able to subsidise these charges ???

      2. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: There still remains......

        That's slightly bogus though - petrol engines are so inefficient that it's not a reasonable comparison.

        Additionally you don't need to babysit a car charger, I can go and get my coffee whilst it is charging, you're stuck holding a (heavy, unwieldy, certainly for smaller adults as well as any with any significant upper body weakness) fuel dispenser the whole time.

        Is it a faster "charge"? yes.

        Does that difference matter? no.

        Why not?

        Because fast charges are a tiny percentage of the energy that goes into a car. How often do you fill up at a motorway services rather than your local supermarket?

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          Re: There still remains......

          "Because fast charges are a tiny percentage of the energy that goes into a car. How often do you fill up at a motorway services rather than your local supermarket?"

          Considering the price differential, very, very rarely and only if desperate, unless you're using a Company Fuel Card!!

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: There still remains......

            Exactly - the same is true for an EV, rapid charging is the "last resort", or more often... only ever used on long journeys, where a short break is usually a welcome opportunity to stretch the legs, get some air and a fresh batch of coffee (and dispose of the last batch).

            The vast majority of charging is (for the ~85% of households with off street parking for their car) going to be done at home, overnight, where the speed doesn't matter and the cost is very low (even negative at times).

            Some of the remainder will be able to charge at work, where again speed isn't an issue.

            Most of the rest will use fast (i.e. slower than rapid) chargers at various places throughout the week, whilst they are shopping or eating out.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: There still remains......

      Fortunately there exist people who have already solved those problems. Electricity companies are kind-of keen to help out too. They love selling electricity.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: There still remains......

        They love selling electricity.

        And they hate replacing infrastructure that costs serious money to do. If you want a new supply you will be charged something like £120/m for the cable route for a domestic 3-phase arrangement (max load around 70kW, assuming the local substation has spare capacity). If you wanted the 2+MW that the above commentards have discussed for a 10 min charge you would have your own substation and 11kV supply. Have you tried asking the price for that?

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: There still remains......

          And you need fast charging at home why, exactly?

          You don't need anything like that, unless you park in your garage for 10 minutes with a flat battery then expect to turn around and drive hundreds of miles non stop. An ordinary 240v 30A supply will be fine for overnight charging. If you have a really long commute you can spend a little extra and get 240v 50A or 70A, which might be a problem in Europe with houses that have only a 100A panel but would only require running bigger wires to one plug in the US.

          1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

            Re: There still remains......

            More it applies to "service stations". Typically a motorway stop will have something like 6-8 pumps, so we are looking at something like 20MW available to provide 10 min charges for long-range support to commercial drivers, holidaymakers, etc. While folk would love to see 800 mile charge ranges I strongly suspect that we won't see that ever, but rather improved battery power density will be used to have a lighter and safer battery pack so cars in crashes don't go all Ford Pinto on the occupants.

            Are any existing service stations going to be able to afford it?

            If not then we are looking to move society in to a position where car and van use is largely local with long distance by train and similar. Not necessarily a bad thing, but without many fast charge points we will struggle to deal with the large number of people relying on on-street parking that has no reserved areas and local authorities who lack the budgets to electrify them. Even assuming the local infrastructure has enough capacity.

            1. John Robson Silver badge

              Re: There still remains......

              " large number of people relying on on-street parking "

              There really aren't as many of those as people make out.

              A recent study revealed that a staggering 24% of households didn't have off street parking.

              But then again 23% of households don't have a car.

              The overlap is neither perfect nor random, but I think it's safe to suggest that 85% of vehicle owners have somewhere to charge at home.

              Existing service stations are almost all served by "the electric highway", and their new owners are fitting banks of 350kW chargers throughout the network, so yes "they" can afford it.

    5. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921 Bronze badge

      Re: There still remains......

      I'm sick of waiting for fusion, thorium reactors please - plentiful, reactors are cleaner, they can't easily be weaponised. India seems to be the only country interested in developing this technology and I for one am thoroughly pissed off that VCs are chasing shiny looking fatuous fusion dreams instead - it's ever 10 years away and has been for decades. Frickin thorium already!

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: There still remains......

        Yes.

        Keep researching fusion, but get thorium running.

        Preferably in container sized units.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

    That won't please the Americans many of whom seem to think that the only EV worth anything is a Tesla Model S Plaid when driven in ludicrous mode around town.

    Talk about any other EV in forums like Electrek and you quickly get told that Tesla is the bees knees when it comes to EV's.

    I did like the bit about rapid charging. Many EV naysayers want to charge their car just like filling the tank with petrol/diesel and then drive 600 miles without stopping once. His ideas may help get those naysayers on the side of EV's.

    1. sev.monster Bronze badge

      Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

      Find me an EV that doesn't phone home and/or has open source software (or alternatively has no "smart" features) and I'll bite. There have been a few deep-dives on the security of the underlying systems that run your average Tesla and I am not impressed from a security nor privacy standpoint. Haven't seen anything on any other popular EVs but I anticipate no better from them.

      Seriously, all I want in an EV is 4 wheels, a cabin that won't let me get wet when it rains, great performance, and a goodly sized battery. Everything else is optional, if not undesired.

      1. Gene Cash Silver badge

        Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

        Neither my Zero SR nor my Energica SS9 phone home. And they are my primary transportation. I do not have a car.

        Now when you add on things like too many wheels and a cabin, then you're going to have to compromise. Which one do you want?

        1. genghis_uk Silver badge

          Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

          Bikes are slightly different though - on a sports bike (I have a GSX-R750 and an Aprilia RSV4) you have something like a 130-150mile range and would generally stop every 100miles or so just to stretch your legs. My friends with more rider friendly bikes (read boring, lol) have bigger tanks and can go further comfortably.

          Electric bikes are not far off the same sort of range - your Zero SR as a more sporty model, will do something like 150miles in town and about 100miles if you go for it. I can see an electric tourer with a bigger battery could potentially do 180miles -200miles on a charge although I have not seen one.

          We are used to this. The electric version does not change much but the charge time when you do your 100mile stop increases a lot - 1hr instead of a few minutes to get going again.

          Car drivers are used to having 100's of miles of range (my car has a 450mile tank) and potentially non-stop driving for several hours at a time... with passengers and luggage. Stop after 5 or 6 hours of driving, 5 minutes to fill up and you are good for another 5 or 6 hours. That is a tall order for an EV.

          Back on topic... your bike does not phone home... yet! I can see that alongside the rise in motorised computers that we drive, insurance companies will be gagging for spy in the cab features. This will inevitably translate to bikes too. Maybe not as fast but they will get there

        2. RockBurner

          Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

          Well - the cabin doesn't have to be a compromise (assuming you've got the bucks)

          https://www.peravescz.com/electric-version/

          1. sev.monster Bronze badge

            Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

            ...No thank you...

        3. sev.monster Bronze badge

          Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

          I thought about getting a bike, but the weather here ranges from 200%-humidity-and-very-hot-you-are-melting to 10 inches of snow on the ground, which would make it difficult and/or unpleasent to drive just about half the year.

      2. usbac

        Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

        Same thing here. If I went to purchase a new car (EV or petrol), I would tell the dealer that I want the cellular radio removed, and put into my hand (not disabled in software).

        What? You say the vehicle will not run without it? Fine, keep the f***ing thing!

        With my new-ish SUV, I just disconnected the coax cable to the cellular antenna, and replaced the connector with a terminator made out of a low value resistor. It still drives okay, and it looks like it's unable to phone home.

      3. sev.monster Bronze badge

        Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

        How about instead of downvoting me you give me options?? I want to like EVs but their reliance on shoving a bigass phablet into the center console (and that being a feature I do not want) makes finding one difficult.

      4. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

        that's not an issue with EVs, but with all vehicles nowadays.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

      Even if the charging and range were sorted, you'd still have to make the whinny electric motor sound like one of god's own V8s.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

        Oh come on, who actually likes the sound of an electric motor?

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

          I *really* like the sound of the electric motor in my car, or rather the lack of sound of the electric motor.

          It means I can have a conversation with my wife, in a fossil fuel car she needs to wear a radio mic and I wear an IEM receiver connected to a neck loop with my hearing aids set to T loop setting.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

        "you'd still have to make the whinny electric motor sound like one of god's own V8s."

        Sound system. Ford already does this for the occupants of their Ecoboost trucks (in addition to your country music or your AM talkshow, the radio pumps out a vroom vroom to make the turbo V6 sound more like your dad's old V8)

        1. sev.monster Bronze badge

          Re: re: Currently the EV market is in the EU

          In some places this is a requirement by law since EVs can be so quiet. Saw a video of some guy that set his to "bruh" so his Tesla played it on loop going down the road.

  6. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    This is impressive

    And, contrary to carbon nanotubes, it looks like it will be available on the market sooner rather than later.

    With all the Li-ion batteries out there, there is undoubtedly an immense drive to have a charger that can not only guarantee your battery recharged in minutes, but your battery life doubled as well.

    I would soo like to get my hands on a charger like that !

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: This is impressive

      "And, contrary to carbon nanotubes, it looks like it will be available on the market sooner rather than later."

      Almost certainly true, but the real kicker will be when and how quickly charging points can be developed, replaced or retro-fitted for the new charging method. The roll out of charging points seems to be finally gathering pace, but can they do variable voltage charging or be adjusted to do so?

      1. Woodnag Silver badge

        Available on the market sooner rather than later?

        "The technology that enables fast charging also extends the life of the battery by avoiding stress ... because the way we are charging the battery does not put it under high temperature or high current stress," he said.

        Really now? A battery is charged by pushing a current into it, and the higher the current, the faster the charge rate. So "high current" without "high current stress"? Also, the higher current, the higher the battery heating...

        Ignoring the above, let's say we have a miracle safe fast charger... it won't be usable with existing packs because the charge balancers have a current rating to match the existing maximum charge current. Considering the design cycle for anything automotive, let alone safety critical systems such as battery packs that you'd prefer not to explode, this would have a long time to adoption.

        PR pitch to get funding.

        1. usbac

          Re: Available on the market sooner rather than later?

          Read the article. He said nothing about high current. He was talking about raising voltage, and keeping the current below what is used now. That was the key to longer life.

          1. Woodnag Silver badge

            Re: Available on the market sooner rather than later?

            You can't do both. If you raise the charging voltage across any battery, the charging current will go up.

            1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

              Re: Available on the market sooner rather than later?

              Higher voltage and lower current for the same power. I think it might be the law?

    2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

      Re: This is impressive

      "

      I would soo like to get my hands on a charger like that !

      "

      And where would you find an electrical outlet to plug it into? Bearing in mind that charging an EV battery in 10 minutes will need about 2MW of energy. If supplied from a standard 3-phase supply it would take over 2500 amps on each phase. There is no connector that can handle that current (and if there were you'd need a fork-lift to lift the cable anyway), so it will have to be fed from a special high-voltage supply, which brings its own safety and other problems.

  7. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

    A power station at each garage ?

    Assuming that the claim is correct, charging a Tesla with a 75kWh battery in 10 minutes will require a feed of 75x6kW ie 450kW (and that is assuming no losses!!). Compared to the power consumption of a normal (petrol/diesel) garage of 10kW or less this is a huge increase. There is no way that the electricity supply to a normal garage would cope - either a new electricity grid connection or a diesel generator at the garage would be required to provide the power.

    (Multiple charging points would multiply the power demand.)

    If a diesel generator at the garage is used then the big advantage of EVs - no local pollution - is negated as the CO2 and other pollutants would be emitted by the generator which is local. If a grid connection is used then the local electricity grid would need to be reinforced - a garage with 10 of these charging points would need a feed of 4.5MW. This is more that the peak electricity demand of 5000 people (UK peak demand 52.7GW, population 66.65 million demand/population under 800W).

    Add to that the problems of connecting leads carrying 450kW (over 1000 amps needed) to the car (perfectly clean connectors required and cables that are rated for a continuous current of over ten times the short term current of a car's starter motor) and I do not see this charging speed becoming at all common. A few demonstration sites might have such a charger but this would be for advertising not for practical use.

    The only practical use of such fast charging batteries at the moment is for far lower powered devices - power tools, phones, tablets etc where the peak demand required is under 3kW.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      Re: A power station at each garage ?

      Large scale EV charging sites will have a large battery as well. This won't be Lithium Iron but a different chemical makeup. The battery will charge when the site is not in use and will help balance out grid demand

      Plus the head of the National Grid has gone on record stating that there is sufficient generating capacity in the UK + the various Interconnectors to handle the foreseeable load of EV charging.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A power station at each garage ?

        "the head of the National Grid has gone on record stating that there is sufficient generating capacity in the UK + the various Interconnectors to handle the foreseeable load of EV charging."

        They probably reckon the total impact of EV charging will get lost in the noise when they look at whats needed to replace all the gas being used for heating and cooking.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: A power station at each garage ?

        "This won't be Lithium Iron but a different chemical makeup."

        It's actually somewhat likely to be "2nd life" lithium ion. As vehicle batteries age, their state of health will mean they're unsuitable for vehicular use. They will have some potential to be used in stationary applications.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: A power station at each garage ?

      "Assuming that the claim is correct, charging a Tesla with a 75kWh battery in 10 minutes will require a feed of 75x6kW ie 450kW (and that is assuming no losses!!). Compared to the power consumption of a normal (petrol/diesel) garage of 10kW or less this is a huge increase."

      I was reading an article about the future of EV in the UK. The claim was made that the vast majority of people drive less than 20 miles per day and they'll just need a low and slow top-up charge overnight. The article also claimed that using smart chargers means the grid can easily handle this overnight charging. How that squares with EOLing all the coal fired generation and plans to go carbon neutral, meaning cutting gas fired generation too, new nuclear being some years away, I'm less sure of.

    3. hammarbtyp

      Re: A power station at each garage ?

      i guess it depends on the efficiency of the present solution and whether the updated method reduces losses.

      If the present method is slower, but less efficient, it could take more power, but obviously at a slower rate.

      You could have a scenario however where at home, you use the slower system, because generally you can plug it in all night, while at a external charging station they use the faster method. The only problem with this is that you lose the advantage of longer term battery life

      1. John 110
        Thumb Down

        Re: A power station at each garage ?

        Charging at home is fine if you can, I can't get my car at my door, and until they fit a charging point on my disabled driver sign, I'll need to stick to liquid fuel.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: A power station at each garage ?

          There are a relatively small proportion of people who can't charge at home (from the numbers I am aware of it's probably around 15%, certainly no higher than 20%), and for those people most charging will be done at other destinations: supermarket charging, workplace charging, shopping centre charging, car park charging...

          Lots of places to charge - places where you will be there for a few hours... even a miserly 7kW (most home chargers) charge at ~30mph. So if you are going somewhere 15 miles away for an hour... you don't need anything other than a really slow destination charger.

          It's a different mindset in terms of fuel, but it's not an "I'm disabled so I can't", or an "I can't charge at home so I can't use it all".

          In terms of accessibility... It is irritating that many of the fast chargers aren't very accessible (often up a kerb), but at least they (for no reason I can fathom) tend to have access aisles.

          Fortunately I can walk around the car, using it for support, so the accessibility doesn't significantly impact me - but the choices around access are really odd.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A power station at each garage ?

      Why the statement about the diesel generator? Seems like a herring. High speed charging at motorway rest stops sounds likely - not needed at home.

      1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: A power station at each garage ?

        The only medium scale generators (1-10MW) that are readily available are diesel powered. (There are some gas turbine units but even 10MW is below the economic size for a gas turbine generator.)

        Given the above, a generator in a garage to provide the power will be a diesel one.

        People unable to charge their vehicles at home (anyone without private off street parking) would need to charge at a garage. Far more charging points would be needed compared to petrol/diesel pumps - a full charge on a petrol car takes under 3 minutes vs 10 minutes with a 450kW charger and over 2 hours for an existing high rate charger (30kW).

        At a motorway service station, the number of vehicles needing to be charged per hour would take the power demand high enough (well over 20MW) to make a direct connection to the national grid the best option.

        One point to consider with all the government push to renewable energy - how much power can renewable sources provide on a calm winter night. (Solar zero, wind zero, hydroelectric 2GW at a time when the electricity demand can reach 50GW.)

        Icon for government plans to go wholly renewable =========>

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: A power station at each garage ?

          I regularly see Google ads for a company selling (leasing?) container sized generators in that power range powered by fission reactors. I suspect they are out of my price range.

          1. nagyeger
            Thumb Up

            Re: A power station at each garage ?

            I suspect they are out of my price range.

            But I *want* one!

            If I say please, could they park one in the back garden on a "rent the space for electricity" basis, maybe?

            They can even have almost all of the electricity. I'm sure the neighbours would be interested in providing winter cooling via their radiators / green-houses.

            Summer cooling for the reactor might be a bit of a problem, but I'm sure something can be worked out....

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: A power station at each garage ?

          But you don't need a generator on site. We have this thing called electricity, and we can move it around the country very economically, and with very little loss, using these things called cables.

          Given that there are ~32.7 million cars in the UK (2021), doing an average of 7400 miles (2019) at a reasonable 4m/kWh that's 60TWh, or a bit under 7GW (90+% of which won't be needed at service stations of course).

          You might want a small substation.

          You could better posit the potential benefits of a more distributed grid and install SMRs on such sites... They already have pretty good round the clock use, and therefore passive security, they are distributed through the country, with a bias towards higher population densities, but are generally outside those population centres.

          An SMR on each of the 158 UK motorway service stations would only need to be 45MWe (and they are anything up to 300MWe) to completely cover all car transport needs.

          Alternatively.... we installed 45GW of renewable generation in the decade between 2010 and 2020 - albeit that will be the easiest 45GW, but it doesn't seem unreasonable to suggest that we could install another 7 over the course of the next two decades (i.e. a decade after fossil fuelled cars are no longer available new - a reasonable, but accelerated, replacement cycle).

          If you did go the (crazy) route of having a purely petroleum based power source for your EV fleet...

          Then you get a higher thermal efficiency (larger engine), and therefore probably more miles per gallon than you would get in a dino juice car anyway. Additionally the waste heat can be used to heat the service station, and the exhaust can be easily controlled and processed with devices which don't have the compromises associated with packaging that treatment into a car - and those gasses aren't being released into the centre of towns where there are people breathing them directly (i.e. it's less bad in terms of location as well)

  8. Korev Silver badge
    Pint

    Fascinating article Laura

    A cold one to start off the week -->

  9. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    Ten minutes for 800 miles? A Tesla 3 Long Range has a 75 kWh battery and a certified range of 353 miles. Assuming that motor design and aerodynamics don't do anything startling, that means 170 kWh for 800 miles, which over 10 minutes is just a shade over 1 MW. That's ... quite a lot of power. Using 415V 3-phase AC, it's 1500A. Using a typical 600V DC fast charger, it's 1700A

    In short, getting the power to the charger will be an issue and getting the power from the charger to the car will be a HUGE issue.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

      re: 600v fast charger?

      Er.... sorry to be a bit pedantic but they are either 400v (nominal) or 800v

      Most EV's use 400v DC to charge them. Some such as the Porsche Taycan use an 800v electrical system.

      Chargers such as those operated by Ionity can work at either voltage.

  10. Big_Boomer Silver badge

    Range

    800 km range with a recharge time of 10 mins. Now THAT would make me consider an Electric car. Whether I could afford one remains to be seen as I am not a new car buyer. Maybe if I win the lottery.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: Range

      Have a think about how often you need that - as an EV user I use rapid chargers a handful of times a year. Because I'm not tied to the vehicle whilst it charges... it just doesn't matter for 90%+ of miles, and 99%+ of journeys.

      Personally I'd quite like a few more miles than the 140 I currently get, but it doesn't need to be much. The trick is to make the 10/20%-80% range sufficient that I want to stop and grab a cup of tea/mug of coffee and get rid of the last one.

      That's ~140 miles (a stop and stretch every couple of hours is good for concentration)... So a 200 mile battery would fit that bill completely (140miles/70% (i.e. 10%-80%)). At 4m/kWh that would be 35kWh needed, if you want that in 10-15 minutes then you are looking at 140kW to 210 kW. Oh, look currently chargers are putting out 350kW (i.e. a six minute charge - just about time to go and grab a cup of beverage and lose the last one).

      Driving an EV means you think about fuel in a different way, it's not a hassle to fill up, because it very rarely involves any time spent next to the car.

  11. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    If I was an electric car maker - and there are probably good reasons why I am not - I would sell cars with a 100 mile range battery (big enough for most commutes a and local trips) but make provision for a further 300+ miles' worth which could be rented by the week for holidays and other long trips. Of course some people would want the long range from the start, but most people don't need it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      They are not built to be easily swapped.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Yes, but wasn't that the point? Somewhere to easily fit a big auxiliary battery? Small and light, and therefore more economic for daily use with the option of a "power-up" for those rare times you need it? Paying something like £50-100 for a weeks hire of an extra battery is a lot cheaper than hiring a longer range car. I'm sure a good engineering designer could find a way. Especially if it could be made a mandated size/shape/connection.

  12. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

    I'm guessing...

    That what will actually happen once this sort of tech is available is that electric accumulators will instead become the norm (think big battery, large flywheel or water tower) collecting power at a much lower rate ready to dump a huge amount of that stored potential into a car.

    At least that's how I'd do it under the circumstances. Should save on having random mad spikes on the grid after a million plus people decide to put the car on charge after coming home from work.

    1. Matthew 3

      Re: I'm guessing...

      Grid spikes are only an issue with 'dumb' chargers that draw current regardless. There are already some energy tariffs that know when you want to use your car, and pay you to *provide* some of your car's stored power at peak times, and charge it up again ready for when you need it, usually overnight - when much of the generating infrastructure is under-utilised. National Grid aren't anticipating any problems, precisely because of this model.

      Once we have a critical mass of electric vehicles, say by 2040, so many petrol stations will likely have gone belly-up that it'll be more of a challenge to find one that has survived.

  13. Potemkine! Silver badge
    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Batteries are dead

      Hydrogen Fuel cells will be good for Trucks and Trains. Most consumers will be happier with at home trickle-charging electric. Even if there are no battery improvements, realistically the 400 miles range we have now is "good enough" for a days' drive...

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Batteries are dead

        "realistically the 400 miles range we have now is "good enough" for a days' drive..."

        As "Road Warrior" that would do me, providing I can find a charger somewhere on some of the longer days. Not really an issue since I commonly stop in a motorway services and do work stuff on the way home. But, being able to afford an EV with that range is something I can't currently contemplate. Despite being an essential user, I don't get a company car, just a car allowance. It won't cover the cost of any of the current EVs with that sort of range isn't never likely to.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Batteries are dead

          So what is your car allowance, and how much do you spend on fuel.

          Because you might find that the sums aren't as bad as you think.

          I shifted from buying my own car to a lease, and that was only possible because the costs of running an EV are much lower (additionally because motability offers very good value). But that's from buying cars with 80k+ on the clock to getting a new car on a lease without a change in cost.

          The challenge is that 400 mile range is actually on the limit of current vehicles.

          Personally I see 200 miles (real world) as a sweet spot - a 350kW charging capability (now being widely deployed in the UK, the electric highway is in new ownership) would mean that a 6 minute break every couple of hours is all that would be needed.

          That's probably good enough for all but the most extreme road warriors.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One piece of the puzzle

    This is obviously an important piece of the puzzle, yet I am still waiting for someone to come forward with a solution to the lack of distribution network capability to deliver very large volumes of power to large volumes of properties using 70+ year old cables that aren't rated to carry that much current. Or the busbar in your house unlikely to be rated beyond about 120A at 240V, single phase (28kW)... Probably less than that.

    The asset replacements required are of staggering quantity and the funding to do it isn't there. I'm not convinced the mechanisms by which DNO demand are forecast adequately capture the necessities of EV's, and definitely not of fast charging EVs. Ofgem aren't in the business of letting capex run riot, which is what needs to happen to enable this.

    AC because awfully close to home industry.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: One piece of the puzzle

      Literally no-one is proposing a mega watt class home charger though.

      7kW charges at ~28mph, so whilst you are in bed (assuming 8 hours) each and every day you can add more than 200 miles of range without resorting to high powered shennaigans.

      Substation upgrades might eventually be needed, but a sensible standard for grid manipulation of charging loads will stave that off for a good while I expect.

  15. Trollslayer

    All very well but

    EVs don't have much range, .

    Under decent conditions my Peugeot 308 can do 800 miles on a full tank of diesel.

    1. Matthew 3

      Re: All very well but

      When was the last time you did 800 miles in one day?

      That's roughly Land's End to John O'Groats, and would take about 15 hours to drive non-stop.

      Personally I never want to do more than 200 miles without a break. Time to stretch my legs, have a pee, and grab something to eat is ample for a high-end charger to replace 200 miles of range.

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: All very well but

        Depends on direct you're going. Also when heading up into Scotland you'll find your fuel consumption is not ideal (what with the coast road being very winding on either side. Also lots of single track fun of slowing/stopping etc. So hypermile figures are pretty much out of the question. That said I managed to cover 650ish on a single tank up there in an xtrail so it's not that far off.)

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: All very well but

          Ah, all that stop start traffic... regen isn't perfectly efficient, but it's alot less bad for an EV than an ICE.

          I used to commute 700 miles a week, which was just a smidge over a tank.

          At the time there were no EVs that would have done my commute, now there are plenty, and none of them would ever need to go to a public charger - they'd just charge overnight at home.

          If I was particularly conservative I might put an extension cable out of the window at the office (or get an actual charger installed in the car park - away from the building, so that it wasn't where others would choose to park).

          It would have been significantly less time out of my week to charge overnight than to visit a petrol station.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All very well but

      That's two charges... and 16 hours of driving without a rest. The only reason they don't put enough batteries in an EV for 800 miles is primarily cost. (Size and weight are secondary issues).

    3. Andre Carneiro

      Re: All very well but

      And how often do you drive 800 miles non-stop?

      Honestly, that argument is getting so tedious....

      1. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

        Re: All very well but

        I did 670 miles non-stop in Canada once. Only put an extra $10 in to make sure I got it back to the airport (warning light came on just as I went into the car hire parking lot)

    4. DS999 Silver badge

      So rent a car for an 800 mile trip

      If you plan to drive all 800 miles at non stop and can't be bothered to stop for 10 or 15 minutes at the halfway point.

      Considering how rarely I drive far enough that even a 250 mile would be too little, I could get myself an electric car today. Charging at 240v 20A in my garage wouldn't be fast, but it would be fine since I'm not driving more than that slow charging would top me up when my car is sitting at home.

      I'm ready to buy a car but I'm planning on buying my last gasoline powered car - once the shortage of cars making used car prices spike wildly is past. I can keep driving my current one for another year.

    5. vincent himpe

      Re: All very well but

      so you tell me you drive 800 miles without even stopping for a piss or a bite to eat ? bravo. not many people can do that. Me, after 2 to 3 hours of driving i need a coffee or a pit stop. And those are just long enough to put 250 miles on the battery. So off we go.

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: All very well but

        I'm on the road all day, every day. 2 hours is about my limit. Back when I was young and indestructible I drove 250 miles to the first and only job of the day, then booked a hotel near the next days job and drove 240 miles there, so a little short of 500 miles in one day. The first job was only less than hour from getting out the car to getting back in. But it did piss down all day, which adds to the problem :-) My only stop was the job in Norfolk. I'd never do that these days, not least because the roads are so much busier.

  16. steelpillow Silver badge
    Coat

    Ain't nobody here but us battery chickens

    Batteries are like staff - they work for you longer and let you down less often if you are nice to them.

    No, wait, staff are like batteries, boss - ...

    1. hammarbtyp

      Re: Ain't nobody here but us battery chickens

      You mean dump them when they get too old?

  17. General Purpose Bronze badge

    "No, wait, staff are like batteries, boss - ..."

    Are you telling me I shouldn't puncture them and I shouldn't send them to landfill?

    1. Disgusted Of Tunbridge Wells

      Like with staff, only puncture your batteries and send them to landfill when you know you won't be caught.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      You also shouldn't lick their terminals.

  18. Gene Cash Silver badge

    "nonlinear voltammetry"

    Not even Star Trek tried that one!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: "nonlinear voltammetry"

      And if it breaks down, you just need to re-route the power and reverse the polarity of the neutron flow to MacGyver a fix :-)

  19. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Solution desperately seeking problem

    Charging time really isn't an issue in the UK where the average car spends 80% of the time parked at home, and 16% of the time parked elsewhere.

    https://www.racfoundation.org/motoring-faqs/mobility#a5

    Car sharing / joint ownership schemes make more environmental sense than developing unnecessary novel charging schemes.

    Range really isn't a major problem for most Brits since the average journey is 9 miles or less. Regular long distance drivers could be catered for by battery swapping at garages.

    1. Androgynous Cupboard Silver badge

      Re: Solution desperately seeking problem

      You're focussing on average. What buyers are focussing on is the extreme events - "if I need to drive to X, can I get there?" If they feel the answer to that is no, they won't buy. Or more accurately, they won't go 100% EV - perhaps keeping a fossil fuel car around for the long trips.

      But I do agree that renting a car for your yearly trip to X and going electric otherwise is a smarter option still.

      1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

        Re: Solution desperately seeking problem

        If you already have a car then swapping it for an EV is unlikely to be economic. Look at the price of reasonable EVs then see how many years of lower fuel and maintenance costs are needed to break even (do not forget to include in interest costs on the buying of the EV).

        The cheapest halfway decent electric car is the SEAT Mii electric with a basic price of just over £20k.

        The average running cost for a car in the UK (fuel, maintenance, car tax and insurance) is estimated to be approximately £2k. Even if an electric car had zero running costs it would still take TEN YEARS to break even. Given actual costs (electricity,insurance and maintenance (including a battery swap as batteries are unlikely to last ten years)) and the break even point will probably exceed 15 years.

        Add to the above the problem that there will not be enough charging points, buying an EV seems to be a mugs game.

        1. Danny 2 Silver badge

          Re: Solution desperately seeking problem

          We're getting to the tipping point or critical mass.

          I bought my first home PC for £300 in 1987 at a bankruptcy sale at a factory. That was a lot of money. It was an Amstrad. Battery backup under the screen. 640k, 10mB drive. DOS. Zero connectivity. Utter mugs game. Everyone considered me a mug, even my techie pals. Personal computers are quite popular today, every town has one.

          Why electric cars will take over sooner than you think

          Overnight car charging is actually a good stop-gap solution to intermittent renewables, the equivalent of a Scottish mountain hydro scheme. I personally can't afford an electric car yet but I know they soon will be dominant. Edinburgh city centre is beginning to ban legacy vehicles.

        2. John Robson Silver badge

          Re: Solution desperately seeking problem

          "If you already have a car then swapping it for an EV is unlikely to be economic."

          Really - why?

          Is that because you are comparing the cost of a second hand car with that of a new EV? It doesn't necessarily even add up more expensive then...

          In my case I got rid of my ~10 year old 100k miles ICE car and went full battery EV for basically the same annual cost (within £60 on a cost of £3600 calculated over 15 years of receipts).

          Granted my annual cost is low at least in part because the motability lease scheme is extraordinarily good value, but an ICE vehicle on the scheme would have cost me even more (as would be expected going from an old car to a new one), such that I wouldn't have chosen to spend the extra money.

  20. vincent himpe

    different perspective.

    Waiting 20 minutes while charging is a loooong time, fueling up is so much faster.... except they go stand in line for 40 min's at costco cause the fuel is 10 c/ gallon less. And they keep the engine running while standing there , cause, you know, ac and all that stuff.

    My average daily time spent charging is close to zero. That is , the time i have to be actively involved in the process.

    Fueling up requires active time usage on my part : driving to a station, waiting in line, waiting while it is pumping the fuel, more time spent while paying at the terminal.

    With electrical that is a non-issue. Whenever i am home it is plugged and charging. Solar during daytime, from my battery storage at nighttime or from the grid. I do not have to sit there and wait in line. I plug it in and go do other things.

    Same thing going to work : arrive, plug it in and go work. (OK, not all employers have chargers yet but that is coming. Just like every parking lot in scandinavia has engine block heaters)

    On the occasion where i do a road trip that requires a charger : i plug it in , get a coffee , go do number 1 or 2 , grab a bite to eat and i'm good for another 4 to 5 hours on the road. After 4 hours of non-stop driving it's time for one of the aforementioned activities anyway. And those activities are long enough ( Starbucks can get very busy and you spend a good 15 minutes for a cup of joe .. ) that there is (almost) no 'idle time waiting for the charge.

    1. Duncan Macdonald Silver badge

      Re: different perspective.

      If like many in the UK you have no private parking then charging at home is not an option.

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: different perspective.

        Actually a much smaller percentage than people think - ~24% of households without somewhere to park but 23% of households don't have a car.

        Overlap will be neither perfect nor exclusive.

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: different perspective.

      "On the occasion where i do a road trip that requires a charger : i plug it in , get a coffee , go do number 1 or 2 , grab a bite to eat "

      Not sure about the US, but here in the UK, motorway services (rest stops) are in their own special time zones where time runs faster the the real world. You can absolutely guarantee that no matter how much you hurry to park up, run in and take a #1, run back out and get on the road, it will, without fail, have taken at least 15 minutes. Go in relaxed, take your time, saunter back to the car, and it STILL takes 15 mins.

      Every. Feckin. Time.

  21. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

    Another questionable battery announcement

    Some problems here.

    Fast charging already has multiple phases to match the battery state. This is nothing new. You can't fast charge without it unless enormous fires are acceptable.

    High capacity Lithium Ion batteries hardly conduct well enough for 10 minute charging when new. Resistance goes up with age.

    The final stage of charge is tricky. After about 70% charge, continuing requires a carefully controlled over-voltage. As the battery ages, different parts of the battery are in different stages following the fast charge. Forcing that last 30% quickly isn't a good idea.

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