A new NASA-funded technology for future space missions could recharge an electric vehicle in just five minutes on Earth, paving the way for greater adoption of such vehicles, the space agency said.
Researchers at Purdue University have developed the Flow Boiling and Condensation Experiment (FBCE) to enable two-phase fluid flow and heat transfer experiments in the long-term microgravity environment of the International Space Station (ISS).
The new “subcooled flow boiling” technique could greatly improve heat transfer efficiency compared to other methods and could be used to control the temperature of future space systems.
The technology could also have applications on Earth, the researchers say: It could make owning an electric car more attractive.
Currently, charging times vary widely, from 20 minutes at a roadside charging station to several hours at a home charging station.
Long charging times and charger locations are both cited as major concerns for people considering owning an electric vehicle.
Reducing the charging time of electric vehicles to 5 minutes – an industry goal – will require charging systems to deliver 1,400A of current.
Currently, premium chargers can only deliver up to 520A, while most chargers available to consumers support less than 150A.
However, a charging system delivering 1,400A would generate more heat than current systems and would require improved methods to control temperature.
Most recently, the team applied techniques learned from NASA’s FBCE experiments to the electric vehicle charging process.
Using this new technology, a dielectric (non-conductive) liquid coolant is pumped through the charging cable, where it captures the heat generated by the current-carrying conductors.
The researchers say that subcooled flow boiling allowed the team to deliver 4.6 times the current of the fastest EV chargers on the market today, removing up to 24.22kWs of heat.
They say the charging cable can deliver 2,400A, far more than the 1,400A needed to reduce the charging time of an electric car to five minutes.
The researchers added: “The application of this new technology enables an unprecedented reduction in the time it takes to charge a car and could remove one of the major barriers to the adoption of electric vehicles globally.”