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Tesla and other car companies are selling a record number of electric vehicles (EVs). But even at
souped-up “supercharger” stations, the cars still require more than 1 hour to top off their
batteries. A new advance may change that.
One strategy for boosting battery charging speeds has been to raise the battery temperature
during charging, which accelerates the chemical reactions inside the battery. But keeping
batteries at high temperatures can cause components to break down quickly.
Now, researchers report they can prevent this breakdown, and allow fast charging, if the heat
is added just for short periods. By heating up a charging device to 60°C for just 10 minutes,
they were able to speed the incorporation of lithium ions into layers of graphite that make
up the anode (as shown in the above artist’s representation), the key step in recharging the
battery. If scaled up, this would allow them to add 320 kilometers in driving range to
conventional lithium-ion batteries, they report today in Joule. The heated batteries
were also stable, able to go through 1700 charge-discharge cycles with little degradation.

Next up, the researchers are looking to cut their charging time in half, adding enough juice
to power an EV in just 5 minutes.
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