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  (Source: nytimes.com)
Tesla will use solar panels and batteries at Supercharger stations to help supply this extra electricity

Tesla is looking to turn the electric vehicle (EV) industry upside down once again with a new system that could fully charge a Tesla vehicle in just five minutes. 

Tesla Chief Technology Officer JB Straubel recently said that the automaker is working on a charging system that would get drivers out of the Supercharger stations and back on the road with a full charge in just 5 minutes.

“It’s not going to happen in a year from now. It’s going to be hard. But I think we can get down to five to 10 minutes,” Straubel said.

Tesla plans to do this by making sure all parts of the charging process are communicating with one another so that the battery isn't negatively affected by such fast charging speeds. A battery can easily overheat at these speeds, but Tesla's Superchargers work differently from traditional charging methods.

Traditional charging consists of on-board chargers that take AC power from the wall socket and convert it to DC. From there, it can regulate the power given to the battery. 

The Superchargers, on the other hand, skips the use of the onboard charger and converts AC to DC outside the vehicle. The outside charger keeps an eye on battery voltage and temperature and changes rates of charging as needed to keep the battery safe. But in order for the outside charger to monitor these stats, it must communicate with other parts of the vehicle. 

Aside from potential battery issues, charging more quickly can take a toll on the grid and utilities. Tesla's current Superchargers deliver 120 kilowatts of electricity while most other charging systems -- such as General Motors' -- offers a maximum of 100 kilowatts. It's difficult to draw larger amounts of power from the grid without seeing costs rise significantly. 

Tesla plans to fix this by giving its Supercharger stations solar panels and batteries. The solar power would be stored in batteries and lessen the amount of electricity drawn from the grid. Also, the system could help utilities monitor major changes in the grid, and Tesla could charge them for this service -- hence keeping costs down. 

Other automakers have employed solar power for their EVs, too. For instance, General Motors (GM) announced a solar charging canopy called the Tracking Solar Tree, which moves with the sun and helps to charge GM's EVs. It's kept in Michigan, and is able to increase renewable energy production by about 25 percent due to its movable parts. In addition, the tree will produce up to 30,000-kilowatt hours per year and generate enough solar energy to charge six EVs daily.

Deploying charging tech that will allow drivers to charge their vehicles as quickly as it takes to fill up a tank of gas could significantly help push the adoption of Tesla EVs. Convenience and cost are two huge selling points, and it looks like Tesla has tackled both in this case. 

By the time Tesla rolls out the affordable version of the Model S, which is reportedly in the works, more people may consider buying the price-friendly vehicles and using its convenient tech. 

Tesla's Supercharger stations can charge a Model S battery halfway in just 20 minutes today. 

Just last month, Tesla unveiled a convenient alternative to waiting for a Model S to charge -- battery swapping. The idea behind battery swapping is to easily open the car chassis to pull the battery out and replace it with a fully charged one. This saves the driver from having to wait for their battery to charge before traveling.

Tesla is doing everything it can to get Model S' into the hands of customers, too, as it recently ramped up production to over 400 Model S' built per week.

Source: Technology Review



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RE: Nor Really That Difficult
By Pneumothorax on 7/17/2013 4:11:05 PM , Rating: 2
You're right, the wattage is the same, even the argument could be made that you can use much thinner charging cables when charging 10A @ 46V vs. 100A @ 4.6V
But, it's easier to charge these large muti-cell series packs in EV's in parallel as when charging in series lithium packs at higher rates results in imbalanced cells that have to be balanced before you can max out the voltage as lithium batteries are very sensitive to overcharging which is much more likely when they're charged in series at very high rates.


RE: Nor Really That Difficult
By Mint on 7/18/2013 11:44:11 AM , Rating: 2
That's not the argument Shadowself was making.

You are right that individual cell control is important in getting this done safely and with minimal cell degradation. I was just debunking his theories about internal resistance.

But there are many different solutions, and it doesn't have to strictly series or parallel. You can have a combination, you can shunt current or create an artificial voltage drop across faster-filling cells, you can have DC-DC converters to have multiple voltages, relays disconnecting some cells or changing which charging group a cell belongs to, etc.


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