Building a better battery requires dealing with issues of materials science, chemistry, and manufacturing. We regularly cover ongoing work in the first two categories, but we receive a fair number of complaints about our inability to manage the third: understanding how companies manage to embrace science-based solutions and convert them into usable products. So, it was exciting to see that a company called StoreDot who claimed that the development of a battery to allow five-minute charging of electric vehicles was apparently willing to speak to the press.
Unfortunately, the response to our requests did not meet our expectations. “Thank you for your interest,” he replied, “we are still in pure R&D mode and cannot share any information or answer questions at this time.” Apparently, the company gave the Guardian an exclusivity and didn’t talk to anyone else.
Undeterred, we’ve since pulled out all the information we could find on StoreDot. site to find out roughly what they were doing, and we went back from there to research the research we covered previously that might be related. What follows is an attempt to piece together a picture of the technology and the challenges a business faces in taking research concepts and turning them into products.
The need for speed
To a certain extent, StoreDot uses ideas that have been floating around in research labs and startups for years, but it takes a bit of a risk by using those ideas in a way different from their apparent promise. The bet that StoreDot is making is that it’s not the absolute load range of an electric vehicle that matters; that’s how fast you can extend that range. So while it takes advantage of research into technologies that allow greater capacity of lithium-ion batteries, it turns around and sacrifices some of that capacity in order to make charging faster.
In other words, the bet is that people would rather add 300 km to their car’s range in five minutes than having a car with a range of 600 km that takes an hour to fully charge.
What are the implications of this bet at the material level? They are mainly dictated by heat management. As anyone who’s plugged into a low-charge laptop while sitting on their lap knows, charging a battery produces a lot of heat. Charging it faster produces even more. To deal with this heat, StoreDot essentially produces a diffuse battery with a lot of space between the individual cells, as you can see at the four minute mark. of this video (integrated below). The cells have large spaces between them and the battery case has holes that allow air to flow between them. It’s loaded in a rack with fans that force air through the battery to keep the heat in check.
Anyone can do this with existing battery technology, but there is a very obvious cost: much lower energy density, which means that a battery has to be much larger to hold the same amount of battery. charge. StoreDot compensates by working on a technology that allows for a much higher charge density, which compensates for the lower density of the materials. Ultimately, the battery must contain similar amounts of charge per volume to existing batteries, despite having less battery material.
- According to the source What is the technology behind a five minute battery charge?
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