Charging E-Car in 10 Minutes - Technological Breakthrough Finally Happened
28 November 2018
The answer to the technical problem of “super batteries”, which consumed the minds of our civilization for the last decade, has finally been found. Preparation for launching a serial production of the battery of the future is now at full speed ahead.
E-MOBILITY IS THE MAIN CAUSE OF THE LITHIUM-ION BATTERIES CRISIS
All electric cars sold today, for only one month, contain cumulatively more batteries than the whole number of smartphones sold in the entire year. For example, during 2017, 1.5 billion phones were sold. Combined capacity of their batteries, put together, equals to the capacity of the batteries installed on 150 thousand electric vehicles. And for only one month of June 2018 the automotive industry has sold over 160 thousand cars. Impressive? You bet! In other words, the world market of batteries is affected not by smartphones and tablets including other gadgets, nor by medical apparatuses and other devices but solely by the electric cars!
At the same time the automotive industry is just gaining revs. There are more than 2 million electric powered vehicles that are scraping the surface of the Earth today, and, according to the prognosis of the experts, their number will jump to 13 million by the year 2020. And all of that number will be equipped with the only basic battery which is used today in the modern electric vehicles, which is the lithium (lithium-ion and lithium polymer) batteries. However, if the humanity does not cut down its appetite for use of the lithium batteries at newly produced vehicles, then, as a consequence, natural resources of lithium and other rare-earth metals will cease to exist on our planet Earth within the next couple of decades.
Pic. 1. One battery of the Tesla cars consists of several thousand of such battery cells.
At the presentation of Tesla Model 3 in March of 2016, Tesla CEO Elon Mask made an arrogant statement concluding that: “In order to produce a half million cars per year…we would basically need to absorb the entire world’s lithium-ion production". For the sake of the argument, let’s point out that only one “Tesla” car consumes 7 kilos of lithium.
Honestly, there is a reason to think about: should we bell an alarm, or should we search for an escape from the situation hanging upon us? And, as usual, there are two ways out of it. The first - is to increase the lithium production aimed at satisfying ever growing market. The second – replacement of lithium batteries with those much more efficient. Let us pose and re-think, and find out the optimal solution for the next stage of the industry development.
Natural Resources and Lithium Price Policy
During the recent years, in order to satisfy the rush demand for lithium, chemical and mining companies have started investing into the extraction of the newly discovered lithium deposits. For example, because of the efforts of just 2 world-leading industrial giants (Chileans SQM and Albemarle of the USA) annual production volume of Lithium by these companies will increase by 200 000 tones by the year 2025. However, that will not suffice the world market demand for lithium. According to the world experts, annual production of this rare-earth metal will increase by at least one third from 2.9 million tons, to 3.9 million tons in the year 2025. Let’s not forget, that the manufacturing of lithium is a contaminated and a power consuming process, that puts additional burden on the ecological state of our planet.
Sadly, but the market paradox reveals inconsistency between the increase of lithium production volume, which does not contribute to the stabilizing of the price policy. Due to the high demand for lithium-ion batteries, specifically from the producers of electric cars, the price of lithium has jumped 3-fold over the last 3-year period. Expectations that the increase of lithium production would change the market conditions leading to the lower prices, does not prove itself so far. And, most likely, there are no sufficient grounds for positive changes at the market – rate of demand from the automakers grows much faster than the rate of the increase of lithium production. By the most modest projections, lithium prices will rise to $ 8155 per ton by the year 2025.
Pic. 2. Diagram of the projected lithium batteries price fluctuation
There is a new, alternative technology of producing lithium, which is based on the extraction of lithium using the flow of sea water through the sub nanometer pores of metallurgical constructions. Due to that, at the outcome of the flow, because of the ability of the membranes to hold the lithium ions, we may receive, as the outcome, fresh water and pure lithium.
Pic. 3. Mining of lithium using the new technology in Bolivia.
In other words, there is no real danger for the humanity due to the exhaustion of lithium stocks in the next decades. Though, it is worth noting, that we should not expect lithium prices going down. Lithium prices will undeniably grow higher, cutting the acceptable range for the automakers. And because of that, so much waited decline in the prices of automotive batteries, is not foreseen, so far.
Utilization Problems of Lithium Batteries
Growing number of the electric cars and, in particular, their depreciation rate, will lead to the giant problem for our civilization in terms of utilization of the written off and the outdated batteries. So far the experts are silent on that, but in vain. Ever growing number of the electric cars and vehicles and specifically their depreciation rate will eventually lead to a huge problem in terms of their disposal. Today most of the people are silent on that. Not smart. Electrolytes used in the lithium-ion batteries are hugely poisonous. Disposing of lithium-ion batteries is the second class environmental hazardous materials, due to the fact that the active lithium is flammable in the open air and when in contact with water. Exactly due to those reasons, lithium batteries are often the cause of fires not only at the dumping yards but in cars and homes.
Pic.4. Inflame of the lithium-ion batteries in gadgets
Damaging of lithium batteries creates a substantial emission of toxic elements and gases. All of that leads to inevitable contamination of the environment. And now, let’s imagine for a second, that all the vehicles, which will be scraping the world roads in the future, will be powered by the lithium batteries? Would our civilization be ready and capable to get hold with ever growing, like an avalanche, problems of disposing of the lithium batteries? Let’s do some analysis of how the things are so far in the industry.
As of today, the main portion of lithium-ion batteries destined for disposing falls upon the consumer electronics, mainly due to the fact that the number of electric powered vehicles is, at the moment, relatively small, and their greater part is still new. Though it is important to note, that their life-expectancy is up to expire in the near future. As per the assessment of the International Energy Association (IEA), in the event our civilization would follow the path of complying with and execution of the Paris Climate Agreement, then, by the year 2030 there would be some 140 million of electric cars. Such an unprecedented growth will lead to the situation whereby by the year 2030 all electrically powered vehicles would “produce” 11 million tons of waste in the form of used lithium-ion batteries. Considering the current practice, disposing procedures, including the financial burden will fall upon the producers of the batteries, because the consumers will not be willing to extract voluntarily those old batteries by themselves dumping it as “garbage”. That is why many leading markets start now employing adequate regulations. For example, according to the EC regulations, producers of batteries are required to finance the expenses for collection, storage and utilization of all collected old batteries. In other words, there are already in existence, or just about to appear, technological chains, aimed at ensuring ecologically clean and effective dealings with the written off lithium-ion batteries.
Considering the positive experience of our civilization, the pilot project by the Belgian Umicore, in cooperation with Tesla and Toyota, which melts the used batteries with extraction of precious metals such as nickel and cobalt, is worth noting. But here is another technological problem. Technology utilized by Umicore, does not so far allow for extraction of the precious lithium, which remains within so-called “side product”. In order to extract precious lithium from those “side” alloys, further development of the cutting-edge technology supported by the adequate financing is mandatory.
According to the Morgan Stanley investment bank, technology of extracting lithium from the old batteries is not practically feasible for at least another ten years. Theoretically, it is feasible even now, however economical component, supporting this process, is far from sufficient. The problem is aggravated by the fact that, the production cost of recycling of the lithium batteries and extraction of the pure metal from it is approximately three times higher compared to the cost of the extracted metal itself as a result of this process. Average cost of recycling of the used batteries is now approaching 1 Euro per kilo. In other words, recycling technologies do exist, but so to speak, do not present capable and economically profitable means.
SEARCH FOR ALTERNATIVE TECHNICAL SOLUTIONS
Motorists on a constant basis are faced with the technical imperfection and limitation problems with regard to the lithium batteries. And this problem is much more substantial than just the scarce supply of the lithium itself. In particular, it is caused by inability of the lithium batteries to perform under the sub-zero temperatures. The number of the charge-recharge cycles of the lithium-ion batteries is limited, contributing to their short life-expectancy and thus high price. But more importantly, is the fact that lithium batteries are required to be charged for several hours using central power supply circuits due to a low acceptable recharging current of the battery. All those problems put together, cut the mobility feature of the current modern electric vehicles and thus slowing down potential growth of the electric automotive industry.
The world-leading companies are currently in search of improving current lithium-ion batteries structure by replacing the existing electrodes with more modern materials. However, as per the experts, this process may take up to no less than 10 years, as the new materials, their qualities and the rate of dependency, are not yet determined. In addition, this research is a time consuming and financially heavy in spending and investing into it process.
That is exactly the reason why the scientists are in search and in development of new technological solutions towards the modern batteries shifting to the alternative sources of energy. For example, China is already utilizing public buses powered by the ferric cathodes, but their efficiency is far from those of the lithium batteries.
Below is the analysis of the most promising researches of car batteries, which are currently being attempted to apply in the area of the auto transportation.
Hydrogen Fuel Cells
The biggest interest in developing of this technology is expressed by Toyota. Japanese position is quite understandable: hydrogen does not cause any hazardous emissions, has the highest efficiency rate and ideally suits the integration with vehicles (from the construction stand point). Hydrogen similarly to electricity claims to be the main automotive power source of the future.
Pic.5. Structure and operation principle of hydrogen fuel cell
Imperfections of hydrogen batteries:
- Fossil fuel mining, which pollutes the environment, is an integral part of producing pure hydrogen. Thus its production makes sense only at the nuclear power plants.
- Efficiency of the hydrogen production is 80-85%. This makes a direct electrical charging of batteries is much more efficient with the rate close to 100% due to elimination of fractional transfer losses.
- The problem of vehicles charged with the hydrogen fuel is still not resolved as it requires very high rate of pressure to pump the required volume of the hydrogen fuel into the tank. This, in turn, demands design and construction of a highly sophisticated and potentially dangerous infrastructure and of the control system, which is dangerous and complicated as well.
- Hydrogen is extremely volatile and highly flammable gas. Its storage problem has not yet been resolved as well, because hydrogen can penetrate through any material. Though the technology of infusing the hydrogen into the metals does exist, it produces a reverse problem – of how to get it out of there.
- Interaction of hydrogen with metals makes, with time, the latter fragile that accordingly leads to the structural deficiency and degradation of metal strength and subsequently to a speedy wear and tear.
Family of Improved Lithium Automotive Batteries
There are two main types of lithium batteries currently in use on the market: lithium-ion and lithium-polymer. The modern industry has already started producing new varieties of the lithium batteries family: cobalt-lithium, lithium-magnesium, lithium-ferro phosphate and others. However, all the mentioned types of lithium batteries possess the same advantages as well as the same problems that we described above.
Out of all of the fundamentally new batteries that have hit the market over the last time, it is worth mentioning the lithium-sulfur batteries. Sony, for example, is working on the technology for producing the lithium-sulfur batteries Li-S, the first samples of which will be available on the market in four years. The developer claims that the lithium-sulfur automotive batteries will have by 40% more density of power compared to the lithium batteries currently in use.
Pic.6. Design and operation principle of the lithium-sulfur automotive battery.
Imperfections of lithium-sulfur batteries:
- Fast rate of degrading of electrodes is the main reason precluding their use in commercial equipment;
- Bad conductivity;
- Bad stability under high temperatures;
- Very short life-expectancy (just 50-60 charge-discharge cycles);
- Same problem with utilization and disposing of the written-off batteries;
Graphene Super Capacitors
This is one of the most promising concepts. Super capacitors are capable of charging and maintaining power much more efficiently. Having mastered this kind of technology, it will be possible to substantially improve the density of storing energy – due to the light weight of graphene. Regrettably, for more than a decade the best brains of the humanity are unsuccessfully searching for the ways to cope with graphene but substantial success is still far away.
Pic.7. Design and principle of operation of graphene super capacitor.
Imperfections of graphene super capacitors:
- The main limitation here is the price, which currently is not competitive against the prices of the other automotive batteries on the market;
- Producers were able to significantly increase the volume of the super capacitors, however, it is still incommensurable with the power of any other type of automotive batteries on the market;
- Such deficiency is at least 10 times inferior, compared to the power of the worst rated current automotive batteries of either type.
- No doubt, recharging of Super capacitors is super quick, however, the discharge time is identically super quick as well, triggering the need of putting in place a new and sophisticated control system for its use.
This is another promising concept. Solid state batteries are being discussed in the industry for many years, however no one has started its practical implementation due to the lack of the general technological readiness. According to Samsung, one of the leading developers on the market, those “batteries of the future” must be smaller in size, quicker charging and much more power efficient compared to their lithium-ion analogs on the market.
Solid state electrolytes are much less inclined to the chemical reactions than fluid or gel, thus performing much longer without requiring replacement every 2-3 years.
This also means that such batteries will be prone to inflaming and exploding caused by the industrial defects or by damage.
Pic.8. Comparison of the lithium-ion against the solid-state battery.
Imperfections of solid state batteries:
- High production cost;
- Incapability to ensure high electric voltage due to lower conductivity. Up to now the main technical specs are not yet defined;
Maximum, what the developers could achieve is that the major portion of the substance in the solid-state batteries must be used under the room temperature. There is ever changing prognosis of hitting the market. It appears that we will not see capable solid-state batteries on the market for at least another five years.
EnergyBRICK – IDEAL BATTERY FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Use of the advanced design solutions allowed ADGEX to create the most reliable and unpretentious automotive battery in the world! EnergyBRICK – is alkali battery, produced on the basis of porous frame. There are two variants of the battery: nickel-zinc frame for traction batteries, specifically designed for the automotive industry and nickel-cadmium – for the industrial use. Nickel-zinc design of the energyBRICK is approximately 1,5 times smaller in size and its weight is comparable to the nickel-cadmium one.
Competitive Advantages of the energyBRICK Batteries:
- There is no memory effect;
- The batteries may be discharged to “zero”, as well as commencing charging or discharging at any level of the remaining capacity at any time without compromising the specifications and the life-expectancy of the battery (which is critical for electric-powered vehicles);
- The batteries may be charged with low as well as with high electric currents, including pulse currents.
- Charging current up to 800А;
- Discharge current 1200А;
- There is an option to discharge the battery with the maximum currents to the real zero level;
- Practically full absence of self-discharging (no more than 5% per year under the most unfavorable conditions);
- Prone to the short circuits;
- Perfect operation under the sub-zero temperatures up to minus 50˚С;
- Due to a low internal resistance, the pack does not get heated, under the charge and discharge rate and its temperature remains practically constant at 40˚С;
- Life-expectancy of the battery is 15 years;
- Number of charge-discharge cycles is 25 000
Pic. 9. The energyBRICK battery
Should we summarize all of the above said, then the unique qualities of the energyBRICK are clear, allowing the motorists and the automotive producers to see the following advantages of its use:
Nowadays filling up the tank of your electric car takes no more than 15 minutes, while you are having a cup of coffee at the road side café - and your car is ready to go! And if you are in a hurry, you may be able to grab a smack boost of electricity and proceed further, because your battery does not require the full charge and will never go caput. At full charge your battery will keep you going for 1000 km. In winter time you will be able to enjoy your electric vehicle like in summer time. Furthermore, your battery will never go dead unexpectedly so you can be sure in its reliable operation regardless of your whereabouts.
Production and Utilization of the energyBRICK Batteries
The most important feature of energyBRICK is the alkali type of this battery which is neither toxic nor poisonous. For the future, ADGEX is planning deep refurbishing procedure of the written-off batteries using the technology of a complete extraction of metals forming the porous frame with their secondary and even thirdly utilization stages of up to 100% utilization rate. The cost of the utilization process will not exceed the cost of the original production, thus it will be profitable and useful to be applied in practice and will ensure 100% ecologically clean and efficient procedure of the written-off batteries with subsequent turnover of the extracted metals. At the original production stage of the energyBRICK batteries, ADGEX is planning to recruit technologies of reinstating and refining metals from the mineral deposits of the low-grade ore, that will ensure safety and the environmental recovery, reducing the anthropogenic pressure upon the ecology and preserving initial resources of our planet. Economically justified higher technological efficiency of metals recovery, at the same time will ensure low production cost of the metals used in the production process, and that, all-in-all, will produce an excellent price-competitive grounds for the energyBRICK batteries on the market. It should be seriously noted that further modernization and development of the energyBRICK batteries is planned through the replacement of the rear-earth metals components with iron and with the hydroid metals which are much less expensive.
ROADS WITH WIRELESS CHARGING
This is one of the most critical and far going subjects of the next step in the electric automotive market development, which is widely discussed within the scientific automotive circles in the world. Of course, it is difficult to imagine future of the world electric vehicles surviving without wireless charging ability. Indeed, such road prototypes do already exist, however, they have little in common with the ultimate idea, just demonstrating today the right concept of utilizing highway pavement for electric vehicles. Below is the picture of one of the possible options of the highway pavement using solar panels, depicting this idea.
Pic.10. The world first prototype of the highway with solar panels.
Practical implementation of this idea is technically very complicated and heavily loaded financially. This immediately raises the question of its practicality. Conditions of using of this type of “power” roads pavement will be directly dependent upon the weather conditions and other negative factors. Dust blown off from the sides of the roads which scrapes and thus damages and limit the active surface of the solar panels, reducing their life-expectancy. This is just one of many examples of this problem. Modern concept of the future electric mobility is based upon the idea that the electric vehicles become “self-propelled carriages” using no batteries at all, whereby the source of power will be the road surface/pavement itself. Only in this case your car will be totally connected to the road and your possible travel needs will directly rely on the road pavement network. There is, however, one obvious question as to how one can use such a “carriage” for going fishing, or mushroom picking, for example, or having trip to nature in general? There is no known way for the humanity to implement this idea of “power” roads network.
Automotive vehicles have achieved such a gigantic popularity exactly because of the fact of their mobility through its own power source, that allows them to withstand the road pot holes, reaching out to the most uninhabited areas. The electric mobility of the future should not and must not be scraped of this advantages ability!
Electric Charging Stations energyBRICK
ADGEX has invented and developed unique technical solution of equipping the world automotive highways network with another network of electric recharging (refueling) stations energyBRICK (ECS). These new type of filling stations are based upon commercial nickel-cadmium batteries energyBRICK and may be easily located in close proximity to the roads, or on top of the roads, or under the roads pavement, or to sit at any convenient distance from the roads. All what is needed to implement this simple, but yet genius idea, is to lay down a specially insulated electric cable from the recharging station to the road, or a highway, and then to run it under the road surface. The section or a part of the road which has this special electric cable along and under its surface is called “recharging area” and is designated for the contactless recharging of the electric vehicles passing on top of it. Our assessment indicates that the life-expectancy of such ECS stations will be no less than 15 years. In case the need be, the electric recharging station energyBRICK is capable to store and maintain electric power for the time needed which is critical for faraway regions, and then redistribute the energy as necessary. Mind you, the energyBRICK batteries are absolutely capable to perform under the sub-zero temperatures of -30 degrees Celsius and lower. That is why our ECS is totally functional all year around.
Refilling of the ECS’s electric power capacity is readily available from the existing federal power network (if such one exists in the area). However, in order to preserve the ecology of the region surrounding the ECS, as well as to achieve competitive market price of 1 kilowatt of electric energy produced, and thus higher economic competitiveness of the energyBRICK power plants, ADGEX recommends to ensure and organize delivery of the required amount of electric energy directly to the station from the closely positioned to the ECS signature greenBLAZE processors. GreenBLAZE is a unique mobile machine that is producing electric power in the field conditions through utilization of organic waste of any type, or any carbon contained raw materials such as coal, which is an ultimate solution for the far north regions. GreenBLAZE processors may be packed in standard containers, or upon the truck flatbed trailers making their positioning at and moving to any required point as a piece of cake! The machines are completely self-sustained, do not require connecting to any regional electric network and have on board all components which are needed for continuous operation. One greenBLAZE processor has the output of no less than 1 megawatt of electric power by conversion of 5 cubic meters of garbage per hour. It is worth noting that the performance of the greenBLAZE processor is based on the principle of vacuum distraction that produce no ecologically hazardous emissions into the surrounding atmosphere! This is exactly the real “green” energy needed to be employed at each and at all of the electric recharging stations.
It is quite obvious that instead of wasting precious financial resources for developing sophisticated highways pavements, it is much more technically feasible and more financially effective to position along any and all of the existing roadways adequate number of electric charging stations. Moreover, such a solution does not break or interfere with conventional powered vehicles. Electric powered cars rushing to the market will get a unique opportunity to recharge on the run and at any location, where ECSs are present. Along with decreasing of the traffic of the conventional Internal Combustion Engines (ICE), refueling gas stations will be replaced with electric charging stations (ECS) and, in future, the first will be smoothly and completely obsolete without causing any operational traffic movement problems.
Strategic policy and consumer culture of the cars refueling stations and of the drivers themselves will be changed. Motorists will no longer have to pull over for refueling, let alone bothering about recharging their cars overnight from a conventional electric sockets. Having had the network of the electric charging stations energyBRICK along the way of your travel, your vehicle will be able to recharge automatically. Another important fact – you will be able to pay for recharging using your mobile phone application without pulling of the highway. ECS station system will be capable of automatically recognizing the target car authorized for the recharging, inside heavy and dense traffic. Because the energyBRICK battery may be charged very quickly, your vehicle will never have its tank empty. Introducing ECSs may and should be gradual. To start with, it is advisable to establish the network of recharging the batteries at the parking lots of commercial malls and other locations, which attract large number of cars without a need for reconstruction, avoiding additional expenses. The second step should be laying down cables at the major intersections of the major traffic arteries. And finally to intergrade electric recharging stations energyBRICK all over the existing roads network, including country roads as well as the least populated regions, which motorists may have access to with their own wheels.
Technology of Contactless Charging “on the run”
Solution of the wireless charging is technically feasible due to utilizing nickel-zinc batteries of the energyBRICK automotive batteries on board of the vehicle itself, as well as due to the nickel-cadmium capacitors at the electric recharging stations (ECS). The system of recharging “on the run” is based upon the principle of transferring energy by the capacitive jet currents. For this purpose, an insulated from the body of the vehicle sheet of metal, attached to the body of the car, will perform the role of the isolating shield of the capacitor. While travelling over the road “charging area”, the insulated cable will perform the role of the secondary shield. With this design electric power at the high frequency in resonance mode will be transmitted from the source of the electric current to the automotive battery through the air gap of the capacitor’s insulation layers with the minimum losses. Transmission efficiency of such a contactless charging system is about 90-96%.
Contactless charging is ensured by the ability of the nickel-cadmium capacitors to release the electricity with the rate of the up to 1000 amperes and of nickel-zinc traction batteries to accept the electric current of up to 800 amperes in the pulse mode. Electric current from the commercial capacitors of the energyBRICK placed at ECS is transferred through the insulated cable to the point of charging. This well insulated cable should be placed under the surface of the ground at the depth of about 10 – 15 centimeters. Electric power will be transferred through the cable at a high rate of frequency and with a high potential. Due to that, the electric current in the cable itself will be totally “miniscule”, thus there will be no heating of the cable and consequently the transfer losses will be minimal.
To conclude, it is worth also noting that the electric charging stations energyBRICK are absolutely safe, as at the high frequencies of operation inside the properly insulated cables located under the surface of the ground, is absolutely hazardless to people and animals.