Ford, Purdue University developing fast EV charging technology

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Ford and researchers at Purdue University are developing new technology to significantly increase the speed of charging EVs — the kind that will make recharging EV batteries as fast as a gas station fill-up.

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • What is the average charging time of EVs?

    EVs typicaly charge for 20 minutes at a charging station, to several hours when charged at home.
  • What are the challenges faced in improving the charging times of contemporary EV chargers?

    One of the dangers Ford perceives is overheating.
  • How does this technology aim to address it?

    Ford and Purdue University is developing a liquid-cooled cable to help dissipate heat in a fast-charging scenario.
  • Researchers from both groups are hard at work on making a new charging station cable that could combine with in-development vehicle charging technology, making it even easier for people to transition to EVs with seamless recharging.

    “Today, chargers are limited in how quickly they can charge an EV’s battery due to the danger of overheating. Charging faster requires more current to travel through the charging cable. The higher the current, the greater the amount of heat that has to be removed to keep the cable operational,” said Ford Research and Advanced Engineering Senior Technical Leader Michael Degner.

    Degner adds, “Ford is committed to making the transition to electrification easy. We are glad to work closely with Purdue’s research team, which has the potential to make electric vehicle and commercial fleet ownership even more appealing and accessible.”

    Purdue University’s researchers are focusing on an alternative cooling method by designing a charging cable that can deliver increased current. The cable will use liquid as an active cooling agent, allowing it to deliver more energy without compromising the cable’s structural integrity.

    Ford explains that the way this works is that the liquid extracts more heat from the cable by changing the phase from liquid to vapor.

    “Electric vehicle charging time can vary widely, from 20 minutes at a station to hours on an at-home charging station, and that can be a source of anxiety for people who are considering buying an electric vehicle. My lab has come up with a solution for situations where the amounts of heat that are produced are beyond the capabilities of today’s technologies,” commented Purdue University’s Issam Mudawar.

    Mudawar, who has been developing ways to more efficiently cool electronics for the past 37 years, says that his lab intends to begin testing a prototype charging cable in the next two years to determine more specific charge speeds for certain models of electric vehicles.

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    The use of the said innovation could mean that EV owners can enjoy significantly faster charging times.

    Ford said that the team’s understanding of the challenges faced in ramping up the charging rates allowed them to come up with this idea.

    The alliance between Ford and Purdue is part of hundreds of strategic collaborations the Blue Oval has with university professors around the world.

    “The research that we are conducting in a project such as this is really advanced, and we view it as a benefit for us, the future of charging electric vehicles and as a pipeline to young talent — and we’ve seen success in doing this. Students get engaged, they like the work they’re doing, and it’s a sustained investment in their laboratories while helping us solve problems,” said Ford Electrification Subsystems and Power Supply Research Manager Ted Miller.

    “Ford has been actively involved in battery research and electric vehicles dating back to the days of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. We’ve secured more than 2,500 U.S. patents in electrification technologies and we have more than 4,000 more pending. Working with Professor Mudawar and his students is the perfect fit to help us research the charging solutions of the future,” added Miller.

    This fast-charging technology could soon be available to use with Ford’s growing EV lineup which includes the Mustang Mach-E SUV and the soon-to-arrive F-150 Lightning Pickup and E-Transit Van.

    While Ford Philippines is yet to include an EV in its lineup, the developing EV scene in the local automotive industry could prompt the American automotive brand to bring in some of its electrified models.

    Photos from Ford

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