Ford Motor Co. in Dearborn and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., announced through a research alliance they are working to develop a new, patent-pending charging station cable that could combine with in-vehicle charging technology advancements to one day make recharging electric vehicles as fast as filling up at the gas station.
“Today, chargers are limited in how quickly they can charge an EV’s battery due to the danger of overheating. Charging faster requires more current to travel through the charging cable,” says Michael Degner, senior technical leader of Ford research and advanced engineering. “The higher the current, the greater the amount of heat that has to be removed to keep the cable operational.”
Researchers at Purdue are focusing on an alternative cooling method by designing a charging cable that delivers increased current and uses liquid as an active cooling agent, helping to extract heat from the cable by changing phase from liquid to vapor.
Researchers say this innovation, coupled with vehicle charging and other technology enhancements made in parallel, are what will lead to the potential gas-station fill-up recharge times.
The idea for this technology originated based on the Ford team’s understanding of the challenges faced going to faster charging rates, as well as Purdue researchers’ area of expertise. The teams collaborate regularly to review the latest results and give feedback on areas of focus as the technology is developed.
“Electric vehicle charging time can vary widely, from 20 minutes at a station to hours on an at-home charging station, and that can be a source of anxiety for people who are considering buying an electric vehicle,” says Issam Mudawar, professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue. “My lab has come up with a solution for situations where the amounts of heat that are produced are beyond the capabilities of today’s technologies.”
Mudawar says his lab intends to begin testing a prototype charging cable in the next two years to determine more specific charge speeds for certain models of electric vehicles.
The alliance between Ford and Purdue is one a hundreds the company has with university professors worldwide to provide graduate students with opportunities to work on real-world challenges.
“The research that we are conducting in a project such as this is really advanced, and we view it as a benefit for us, the future of charging electric vehicles and as a pipeline to young talent – and we’ve seen success in doing this,” says Ted Miller, manager of electrification subsystems and power supply research at Ford. “Students get engaged, they like the work they’re doing, and it’s a sustained investment in their laboratories, while helping us solve problems.”
While the fast-charging cable won’t be on the market for some time as research continues, Mudawar has been developing ways to more efficiently cool electronics for the past 37 years by taking advantage of how liquid captures heat when boiled into a vapor.
To learn more about Purdue’s research, click here.