The Next-Gen Rechargeable Battery Technology that Could Power the Future of Electric Cars

03/01/2021

Image: Penn State

Happy Valley-based EC Power is partnering with engineering researchers at Penn State to develop next-generation rechargeable battery technology for consumer electronics and power grid management, as well as electric vehicles. Professor Chao-Yang Wang, the William E. Diefenderfer Chair of Mechanical Engineering at Penn State, founded the company in 2011.

“We currently have several joint projects with faculty and staff at the Penn State Electrochemical Engine Center, Energy Nanostructure Lab and Battery and Energy Storage Technology Center,” the company’s website states. “[Working with and leasing facilities and equipment from the University for technical services] allows us to work seamlessly with customers for early-stage technology development.”

In January, Wang’s team announced the development of a lithium iron phosphate battery with the potential to reduce both cost and range anxiety associated with charging mass-market electric vehicles. The new battery, according to the researchers, has a range of 250 miles with the ability to charge in 10 minutes and should have a lifetime of 2 million miles. Wang and his team published their findings last month in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Energy.

Using a self-heating approach previously developed by Wang’s team, the thermally modulated battery quickly heats up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit for charge and discharge, then cools down when not in use. “The very fast charge allows us to downsize the battery without incurring range anxiety (the fear of running out of power before having a chance to recharge),” said Wang.

He noted an electric vehicle with this battery could go from zero to 60 miles per hour in 3 seconds and would drive like a Porsche, according to a Penn State press release. “This is how we are going to change the environment and not contribute to just the luxury cars,” said Wang. “Let everyone afford electric vehicles.” EC Power’s fast-charging battery technology also has demonstrated applications for electric aircraft and other power systems. The company provides a range of services for industrial clients interested in utilizing temperature-independent power, including in-house simulation, prototyping/fabrication and heavy-duty testing and characterization services.

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