Researchers have discovered that fast charging your electric batteries can damage them and reduce their capacity.
Engineers from the University of California, Riverside carried out experiments on batteries used in popular electric vehicles. And their findings showed that fast charging at commercial stations can cause harm to electric batteries after about 25 charges.
The damage to the batteries is due to high temperatures and resistance. These extreme conditions will then lead to cracks and leaks in the battery, thereby reducing their capacity.
During the experiment, he researchers charged two sets of discharged lithium-ion batteries with two different chargers. The first one was charged with fast chargers found in commercial stations while the second set was charged using an all new fast-charging algorithm.
The new charging algorithm is adaptive and will charge each battery according to their internal resistance. The internal resistance affects the flow of electrons during charging. However, the internal resistance of a battery isn’t always constant and changes due to a number of factors.
Battery age and size, temperature and state of charge are some of the factors that affect internal resistance. When the internal resistance is high, problems arise during charging and your battery is damaged.
The advantage of the new algorithmic charging method is that it tracks your battery’s internal resistance during charging. Charging stops when internal resistance arises. This way, a personalised charging experience is provided for each battery. And the battery capacity is preserved.
After charging the two sets of batteries by the two charging techniques discussed above for 13 charging cycles, there wasn’t a significant difference in the batteries’ capacities. Beyond that, it was observed that the commercial fast chargers started to ruin the batteries’ capacities.
After 40 charges, batteries charged by commercial fast chargers only had 60% of their storage capacity. However, the ‘use life’ for rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is at 80%. The capacity will decrease to this value after 25 charging cycles with commercial fast chargers. After 40 cycles, capacity drops to 60% and the batteries can no longer be used for most purposes.
Batteries charged with the algorithmic charging method were still in excellent condition after 36 charging cycles.
The effects of using industry fast chargers on your batteries extend well beyond reducing their capacity. After 60 charging cycles, the researchers found out that electrolytes and electrodes were also exposed to air. And this greatly increases the risk of an explosion. The risk is even more when the temperature is higher, say 60°C.
One of the researchers Mihri Ozkan said the damage caused by commercial fast chargers are major safety concerns.
Capacity loss, internal chemical and mechanical damage, plus the high heat for each battery are major safety concerns.
Another member of the research team Cengiz Ozkan sees the innovative algorithmic charging method as the solution to the current effect of industry fast chargers on battery capacity.
Our alternative, adaptive, fast-charging algorithm reduced capacity fade and eliminated fractures and changes in composition in the commercial battery cells.
Having applied for a patent on their algorithmic charging technique, it could be licenced to auto companies sometime in the future. As we wait for that to happen, the research team has advised the public to reduce the use of industry fast chargers. Also, they recommend charging before the battery is totally drained. And they also warned against overcharging.