The mobility rEVolution: Quantum physics-based tech to cut EV charging time to nine seconds


A new technology pioneered by scientists at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) in South Korea may accelerate charging speeds for electric vehicles (EVs) by 200 times, meaning that filling a battery could become even quicker than pumping gas. Presently, cars take on average ten hours to fully recharge at home or 20-40 minutes using cutting-edge superchargers at a charging station. With slow charging times being one of the main issues in the way of EV adoption, South Korean researchers have looked into the realm of quantum physics. Their starting point was the concept of quantum battery first prosed in a 2012 study, which theorized that quantum resources, such as entanglement, can be used to vastly speed up the battery charging process by charging all cells within the battery collectively as a whole. In contrast, conventional battery cells are charged in parallel, independently of one another, slowing down the process. The IBS scientists found that the presence of global operation, where all cells talk simultaneously, is the single main factor in the quantum charging advantage that leads to quadratic scaling in charging speed. This means that as quantum batteries increase in size, charging time becomes faster. To put it in numbers, employing quantum charging with a battery that contains about 200 cells would cut the charging time to about three minutes at home or about nine seconds at a charging station.

But while quantum technologies are still in their infancy and there is still a long way to go before these methods can be implemented in practice, Israeli battery developer StoreDot has secured new funding aimed towards developing battery cells capable of delivering 100 miles (160 kilometers) in five minutes of charge by 2024. Following its partnerships with Daimler, BP, Samsung, TDK, EVE, and VinFast, the Israeli startup has now secured a multi-million-dollar investment from India's EV manufacturer Ola Electric. The funding will be used for R&D and to accelerate the scaling up to mass production of its silicon-dominant anode extreme fast charging (XFC) lithium-ion cells. After achieving a world first in 2019 by demonstrating the live full charge of a two-wheeled EV in five minutes, StoreDot is now moving XFC battery technology from the lab to a commercially-viable product, making it available in both pouch and the 4680-family form factor. According to its strategic technology roadmap unveiled earlier this month, StoreDot gears to deliver three generations of its battery technology – described as 100in5, 100in3, and 100in2 of miles per minute of charging – by 2024, 2028 and 2030. StoreDot claims that it is already at the “advanced stages of developing ground-breaking semi-solid-state technologies” which it believes will further improve its batteries by 40% over the next four years. Its third-generation achievement is expected to come on the back of a post-lithium technology that is to offer an energy density of more than 550 Wh/kg.

In other news this week, Ola Electric has emerged as one of the winners in a 50GWh battery cell tender under PLI Scheme for Advanced Chemistry Cell (ACC) Battery Storage. The EV manufacturer has secured incentive support for a 20GWh cell manufacturing facility, alongside Hyundai Global Motors (20GWh), Reliance New Energy Solar (5GWh), and Rajesh Exports (5GWh). The selected bidders will have to set up the manufacturing facility within two years from the appointed date. The incentive will be disbursed thereafter over a period of five years on the sale of batteries manufactured in India. The tender announcement comes hot on the heels of Japanese carmaker Suzuki Motor‘s decision to invest $1.3 billion in electric car and battery manufacturing in India, further boosting the country's nascent EV sector.

Talking about big manufacturing plans, Stellantis and LG Chem's LG Energy Solution (LGES) have announced an over CAD$5 billion ($4.1 billion) investment in a battery gigafactory in Canada. The joint venture will be the first large-scale lithium-ion battery cell and module production plant in Canada, with an annual production capacity in excess of 45GWh. The production plant will be located in Winstor, Ontario, and its construction is scheduled to begin later this year and see batteries rolling off the production lines in the first quarter of 2024. In a separate announcement, the South Korean battery manufacturer has announced a KRW 1.7 trillion ($1.39 billion) investment in a new factory for cylindrical lithium-ion batteries in Queen Creek, Arizona. The facility will be LGES' first-ever cylindrical-type battery manufacturing plant in North America and also a wholly-owned subsidiary, rather than a joint venture.

Over in Europe, LGES' manufacturing plans are shaping well with the European Commission (EC) approving a plan by the Polish government to contribute €95 million to the cost of expanding lithium-ion battery cell manufacturing capacity at a Polish site owned by the South Korean company. The manufacturer announced plans to invest €1 billion at its Biskupice Podgórne cell and battery module and pack plant, in the Dolnośląskie region of southwest Poland, in 2017. In other news, the EC on Tuesday approved the grant of €209 million of public support to Korean-owned SK On Hungary to help finance an EV battery cell and module factory in Hungary. The plant project, started early last year, will see the manufacturer – part of the SK Group conglomerate – invest €1.62 billion into a fab with an annual production capacity of 30GWh at Iváncsa, in the Közép-Dunántúl region which qualifies for EU regional aid. The commission said the factory – which will create at least 1,900 jobs – would have been built in a more developed part of the EU without the Hungarian government cash.

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German automaker Volkswagen said that it would restart vehicle production at its German EV factories slightly ahead of its original plans. In late February, the company pointed to Ukraine supply chain issues as a reason for halting production in Germany, and is now gearing to resume production next week. The announcement comes just days after German cable and harness maker Leoni, which supplies automakers with wire harnesses crucial for car production, has returned to producing at 40% capacity in Ukraine after a temporary halt due to Russia’s invasion. In other news, Volkswagen has confirmed plans for its next battery cell factory in Spain. The automaker will invest EUR 7 billion on electrifying Spanish production, with the investment hanging on receiving government funds. US carmaker Ford could join VW's Spanish project as a customer or partner.

Japanese carmakers are also eyeing the European EV market. Following its decision to not invest in Euro 7 for passenger cars, Nissan will not introduce any new pure internal combustion engine-powered passenger cars in Europe from 2023. The carmaker expects 75% of its sales mix in the region to be electrified by FY2026, with the ambition to reach 100% by the end of the decade. Honda is gearing to claim its market share following the launch of its Civic:e in Europe. The hybrid is another step towards Honda's goal to electrify its entire European lineup this year.

Finally, China’s battery maker BYD and the Dutch energy company Shell have partnered to develop new EV charging offers for clients in China and Europe. Initially, the two firms will develop a network of more than 10,000 charging points in Shenzhen, before extending to other regions. BYD’s battery-powered EVs and plug-in hybrids will also be allowed to access 275,000 charging points across Shell’s network in Europe. Shell hopes to operate over 500,000 EV charging points worldwide by 2025.

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