- Purdue University researchers say they’ve made a massive breakthrough in electric car charging.
- Engineers funded by Ford have invented a cable that can charge a vehicle in under five minutes.
- The cable has a cooling system that allows it to accommodate a higher current.
Ford and Purdue University are working on a new cable that they say could help electric cars charge up in about the amount of time it takes to fill up a gas tank.
The technology is still patent-pending and the prototype cord hasn’t been tested with an electric vehicle yet. But Purdue’s research is a promising step toward making clean, battery-powered cars as convenient as ones that run on polluting fossil fuels.
As it stands now, charging electric cars can be a slow and painful process. Charging times vary, but even the best cars under optimal conditions need to stay plugged in for around 30 minutes to slurp up enough electricity to take them from a low battery to nearly full. With a slower charger, it can take hours or days.
Understandably, this is too much to bear for some people accustomed to quick fill-ups in their gas-powered cars. But Purdue engineers funded by Ford say they’ve made a breakthrough that could slash charging times to five minutes or less.
They’ve done this by addressing one of the key challenges hindering charging speed: overheating. The faster current flows through a charging system, the hotter everything gets, from the battery to the charging cable.
Cooling things down can allow for higher currents and faster charging — and that’s exactly what Purdue has done. Researchers developed a cable that uses liquid-and-vapor cooling to accommodate a current of over 2,400 amps, almost five times that of today’s most advanced EV chargers. Tesla Superchargers, Purdue says, deliver up to 520 amps.
Only 1,400 amps are needed to bring charging times for large EVs down below five minutes, the researchers said.
But a cool charging cable is just one piece of the puzzle, and ultra-quick charging is still a ways away. For five-minute charging to become reality, we’ll need charging stations that can deliver more power and cars that can accept it.