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Power Transportation

EV Fast-Charging Standards In Flux 122

savuporo writes "With the first battery electric vehicles becoming available on markets worldwide, there is an increased push to establish standards for fast-charging plugs. Unfortunately, the story is far from simple. The US hopes to establish its own DC fast-charging standard by 2012, and Europe cannot come to an agreement about their version. Meanwhile, the CHAdeMO fast-charge standard developed and widely deployed in Japan, used on both the Nissan Leaf and Mitsubishi MiEV, is gaining momentum with deployments underway both in the US and Europe. CHAdeMO is limited to a 62kW charge rate, able to charge smaller battery packs to 80% SoC in 15-30 minutes."
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EV Fast-Charging Standards In Flux

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 23, 2011 @03:51PM (#35916600)

    For those of you playing at home, SoC stands for 'State of Charge'.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @04:01PM (#35916642)

    There's no reason why an EV refueling station can't support multiple charge standards (as long as there are only a handful versus dozens).

    One of the biggest expenses in setting up a charging station is in getting the high-power high-voltage power feed from the power company. Supporting a different connector or voltage adds a relatively small incremental cost to the charging station.

    After all, gas stations already support diesel and 3 grades of gasoline (ok, technically it's just 2 grades and they blend them at the pump).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by xMrFishx ( 1956084 )
      As long as you have a Max1KV connector, a Max3KV connector etc you can mix standards. If you have identical connectors you lead to the Petrol in a Diesel tank problem where connecting a substantially higher voltage to a car that can not transform or handle safely, potentially damaging the car's electrical infrastructure.
    • by MBCook ( 132727 )

      This would be a much bigger problem for a home or perhaps a business that wants to have an EV charging station. Just putting one in would be a large expense for a home or say a small local co-op that wants to do something green. Having an EV charging station should help with your home's value (assuming EVs start to take off), but if it's the wrong kind it's just a hassle. It's something that you'd have to replace at a large cost. Or what if I have a Ford EV and my friend comes over and asks if he could char

    • by dubdays ( 410710 )
      First of all, I haven't kept up on EV technology as much as I probably should (ergo, please bear that in mind if I write something completely stupid...and please correct me). That said, to me, it doesn't seem that the connector should even be the real issue. What I think would be more meaningful would be for auto manufacturers to decide on some kind of standard to tell the charger how it wants its electricity. What comes to mind is possibly some kind of autonegotion mechansim between the charger and vehicle
  • Switch Batteries? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by rusl ( 1255318 )

    Obviously a fast switch of batteries is a better idea. I don't want to wait 15 minutes or even 5 to recharge. Then they can have fast chargers dedicated and efficient to re supply the batteries. I know batteries are expensive so the biggest obstacle is just figuring out a credit/ID system so that people can be trusted to trade $1000 batteries quickly.

    • That's great if the batteries are standard and easily accessible. Aren't many (even most?) batteries either built-in or specially shaped for the specific vehicle?

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @04:25PM (#35916770)

      Obviously a fast switch of batteries is a better idea. I don't want to wait 15 minutes or even 5 to recharge. Then they can have fast chargers dedicated and efficient to re supply the batteries. I know batteries are expensive so the biggest obstacle is just figuring out a credit/ID system so that people can be trusted to trade $1000 batteries quickly.

      I don't think the cost of the battery pack is a factor, nor is verifying credit/ID a difficult problem...I can rent a $25,000 car from a car rental agency in a few minutes -- if I'm in the right car rental membership program, my reserved car is waiting for me in the lot so I just hop in and drive to the gate, then show my driver's license to leave the lot.

      I think a bigger obstacle is that people would have to agree to battery leasing programs instead of ownership. If you own the battery, you're not going to want to swap out your brand new battery with some old worn out battery that happened to be on the shelf at the service station.

      Coupled with the fact that it's even harder to standardize on battery design/voltage than on charging connector/voltage. Physical dimensions of battery packs can vary widely depending on the design of the car.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I don't think the cost of the battery pack is a factor, nor is verifying credit/ID a difficult problem...I can rent a $25,000 car from a car rental agency in a few minutes -- if I'm in the right car rental membership program, my reserved car is waiting for me in the lot so I just hop in and drive to the gate, then show my driver's license to leave the lot.

        And so all the people that can't get that line of credit do what? I'm seriously asking this question. I believe such an approach would slow adoption.

        Answer: You leave a battery, you get a battery.

        Now the problem is how how to account for the variances in battery quality due to age, usage, etc.

        Perhaps we could design a battery where the cost of converting an extremely used battery to a perfectly good one is minimal. Not as likely.

        That or create the ability to easily calculate the difference between the t

      • I don't really think the battery itself is important, but the power stored in it is. You pay for X amount of power, you get X amount of power, it's the responsability of the provider to ensure the batter is good enough to still contain that amount of power, so older ones will be thrown away.

        • by MBCook ( 132727 )
          Right. The battery cost would be priced into the electricity 'fill up' cost, and it would be up to the stations to maintain the batteries and replace them as necessary, not unlike they have to maintain their underground tanks and pumps.
      • by Chuq ( 8564 )

        The way Better Place plans to do it - if you need to swap batteries more than 50 times a year (ie. More often than once a week, similar to refilling a petrol car) they will credit your account. So that gives them an incentive to take the "old" crappy batteries out of rotation.

    • by robot256 ( 1635039 ) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @04:29PM (#35916788)

      You don't want to wait 5 minutes for a recharge? It takes longer than that to fuel a gas car. If it were such a big problem they would have invented swappable gas tanks long ago.

      Besides, it's far easier to standardize a plug than an entire battery pack. Car manufacturers would hate the constraint of standardized battery packs--it's much easier to design a usable car if you can shove batteries wherever you want. But it's relatively easy to put any kind of plug on any kind of car.

      It's also one thing for a gas station to have three different plugs at each booth; another thing to stock 10 different kinds of batteries for trucks, SUVs, sport cars, family cars, mini cars, etc etc etc. Not to mention the huge investment in robotic battery changers at all the gas stations--that costs way more than plugs on a rack.

      Don't worry, by the time EVs are common enough for battery swapping to make any sense at all, the batteries themselves will be so advanced they will charge in a reasonable amount of time and it will be unnecessary. In the meantime, we have to put up with the practicalities of boot-strapping an entire market in the face of subsidized competition (petroleum industry).

      • by wkk2 ( 808881 )

        Switching batteries will be a big fail the first time there is a large hurricane evacuation.

        • by tragedy ( 27079 )

          By the same token, pumping gas from an underground reservoir will be a big fail the first time there is a large hurricane evacuation. Because a gas station can run out of gas in the same way that a battery filling station can run out of charged battery. The difference is that, as long as its (very heavy duty) power lines don't go down, the battery filling station can gradually restore its capacity without taking delivery of more batteries. The gas station, once it's out of gas, is empty until a tanker truck

          • by wkk2 ( 808881 )

            I was thinking about troubles with evacuation from some place like the Florida Keys with a long highway. All lanes are switched to North so it would be difficult to get extra batteries. Even a seasonal thing like lots of people going South for Spring break would cause inventory problems.

            It's probably hard to compete with the cost of piping fuel to storage tanks near distribution centers vs. the investment in battery packs.

            I sure hope we can get charging stations everywhere. I'm not very hopeful since uti

            • by tragedy ( 27079 )

              Hmm, yeah I guess the Florida keys and Florida itself is a worst case scenario type of situation for that sort of problem. Rather than being able to fan out roughly 180 degrees and get away from a limited evacuation area, you have pretty much one direction to go and, since in some cases the evacuation area could potentially be pretty much the whole state, you have a long way to go so you need to stop to fuel up even if you started with a full charge.

              On the other hand, an emergency situation is a government

      • by tragedy ( 27079 )

        5 minutes? The article summary says that it can charge smaller battery packs to 80% in 15-30 minutes, which we all know actually means at least 30 minutes, probably more, and that's only to 80%, the remaining 20% would probably then take another 30 minutes. As for a regular gas station fillup taking longer than five minutes, that seems a bit of an overestimate (if we assume that we're talking about just the filling time and not also the payment process) considering that typical US gas pumps are up to 10 gal

        • by Chuq ( 8564 )

          Or.... We could just use battery switch technology, such the already up-and-working switch stations built by Better Place in Japan... 2 mins from driving in to the station, to driving out with a new battery. It saves having the entire argument in the first place.


    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'm sorry but for this "new" technology to properly take off then things are going to have to be pretty similar to how they are now (refueling and other-wise) with petrol cars otherwise people will not accept them. The idea of trading batteries out will not be a consideration for any large car company. Maybe you'd be able to carry a small charge with you as you can now with a jerrycan for petrol, but you can't expect manufacturers to allow you to essentially remove your fuel tank quickly and change it with

    • There's another reason that switching batteries is good. If a 62 kW supply is required to charge a battery in 30 minutes, you would need 360 kW+ to charge it in 5 minutes. That's a phenomenal power level. If your charging efficiency is 90%, that means you will be dissipating 36 kW in your car as heat while charging. That's pretty close to explosive.

      The service station and the power utility would have an interest in leveling their load, so charging an inventory of batteries relatively slowly is a good th

      • by Rei ( 128717 )

        1) Li-ion battery packs are generally 96% to over 99% efficient during charging, not 90%.
        2) 36kW is not "pretty close to explosive". That's the heat output of a moderately large home's furnace. You really think you can't simply water quench the output of a home furnace for a couple minutes?
        3) You don't have to draw a rapid charge straight from the grid. A much more reasonable approach is to charge a shared battery bank at the station, and the battery bank discharges the proper amount whenever someone hoo

      • by Isaac-1 ( 233099 )

        One other problem no one seems to be mentioning, a typical modern U.S. home electrical connection is in the 100-200 amp service size (very large homes may have up to 320 amp (400 amp meters, but common meter bases are limited to 320 amps) service and smaller older, homes may have much less. A 200 amp service has a dedicated output power of 48KW per hour. A typical house at any given time will likely only draw a fraction of that power level even with energy hogs like air conditioners running. So we are no

        • ...dedicated output power of 48KW per hour.

          48 kW period. (Physics: A Watt is a unit of power. A Watt-hour is a unit of energy. A Watt per hour is a rate of increase of power.)

          You won't be getting a "quick charge" at home without an expensive service upgrade. Overnight probably means up to 12 hours for a charge. That gets you about 288 kW-hr of energy if you draw 100 A on a 240 V circuit. In very rough terms, you can think of a kilowatt as a horsepower (1.3 actually). So you could run your high performance car at full power for 1 hr on an overn

    • Re:Switch Batteries? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hernick ( 63550 ) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @05:07PM (#35916956)

      Oh no, these aren't 1000$ batteries we're talking about. A thousand-dollar battery is what you put on an electric bicycle.

      A 16kWh pack (like the Nissan LEAF and Mitsubishi i-Miev use) is about 10 000$. A full charge is good for around 100 miles of autonomy.

      A long-range battery pack would be many tens of thousands of dollars...

      • The battery pack should not be owned by the vehicle owner. It should be owned by the electricity provider/gas station. It should also have a built-in life counter like laptop batteries do. You the vehicle owner will get charged a rate that includes the actual electricity used as well as a battery pack usage charge. If the battery chaging stations were as abundant as gas stations we''d be fine. On a separate note, I was watching Nova last night and they said our total petroleum based infrastrucure is worth
    • by black6host ( 469985 ) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @05:39PM (#35917132)

      Obviously a fast switch of batteries is a better idea. I don't want to wait 15 minutes or even 5 to recharge. ...

      How about if the range of the vehicle was quadrupled? Would you wait then?

      • Give me a 650+ mile range on the highway and it won't matter so much.
      • You mean 4 times the range of the biggest batteries on the market? That would be 245mi (tesla roadster) * 4 = 980miles. That's a few weeks worth of battery for most.
    • by Rei ( 128717 ) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:00PM (#35917240) Homepage

      Think of the battery pack like the frame of the vehicle -- huge, heavy, expensive, and critical to the structural integrity of the vehicle. Yes, you *could* make a "hot swappable frame" for a vehicle -- but that doesn't make it a good idea. The frames would be tough to swap, expensive to stock, ridiculously bulky to stock, and as much as you tried to standardize between vehicles, you'd need different models of frames. It's the exact same thing with battery packs. Swapping heavy, structurally-integrity-critical devices with high power, high voltage connectors whose needs in terms of shape, weight distribution, capacity, weight, and voltage discharge profile vary dramatically between vehicles, and which cost many thousands of dollars each to stock... it's just, no. Fast charge is the only realistic way to go.

      • has already solved all the problems. Check out their website. It's a shame very few people know about them.
        • Now all they have to do is convince the Auto makers to standardize the batteries they use and give up the advantage of advertising that their vehicle gets X miles more on the road than vehicle Y!
    • by cvtan ( 752695 )
      Sorry, I'm not giving up my nice shiny new batteries so someone can stick me with their old moldy ones! Remember, the only people that want to share are the ones that don't have anything.
      • by Chuq ( 8564 )

        But if you used the same battery pack for a decade, then swapped your "old moldy" one for a new one, that would be ok, right?

    • I don't want to wait 15 minutes or even 5 to recharge.

      You should time yourself the next time you fill your car up. Most fuel pumps are fairly slow and 8 minutes to refill your car (from the time you enter the station, until you leave) is fairly reasonable. Now, these chargers would be something you wouldn't need to use regularly, since most of the time you would just charge up at home. So, a 15 minute charge time would only be an issue when you're on a longer trip.

      Back in the 90's in So. Cal. and Arizona, there were quite a few chargers placed around for elect

    • Wear and tear on the batteries and contacts would be a major asspain, as would integrating convenient battery access hatches and slide-out rails.

    • I for one would love a system where I could trade my old no longer able to hold a full charge battery for a nice new one! That would be the main problem with that system! For it to work all the vehicles would have to have standardized batteries bought or leased from the charging company!
  • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @04:20PM (#35916750) Journal

    Honestly, all that matters is that each region has a uniform standard, and is large enough that economies of scale will kick in.

    You're unlikely to take your car to Japan with you, and what's more, since we're only really talking about SIGNALING, it's only going to take a few dollars worth of electronics to do the conversion. Sure, a $20 adapter so you can use your electric razor on another continent is inconvenient, but a $20 adapter so you can use you CAR? No problem.

    Now, if the EU can't agree on a standard, that would be a problem. Wander across the border from Germany to France and you can't charge your car... Oops. And the added expense for charging stations to maintain two or more sets of chargers for different countries' vehicles wouldn't be cheap or easy to maintain.

    Come to think of it... Are electric cars and hybrids coming with normal electrical outlets installed? 120/240V ? They really should. Could eliminate the "car adapter" market over-night, make traveling much easier and add a tremendous amount of utility to an electric vehicle... Even if utility power goes out, EVERYONE with an electric car could have a substantial backup. I can imagine lightning fast tire changes if you can power your impact tools on the road... But I digress.

    Estonia will install approximately 250 quick-charge stations

    As they say, as goes Estonia, so goes Lichtenstein! Clearly Japan is on course to dominate the world...

    • by Anonymous Coward

      As far as I know, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland (and probably Austria, Poland, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia?) are standardizing on the "Type 2 Mode 3" sockets. It's a nice 3-phase 400V plug (domestic 3-phase connections are 400V in Europe), with some additional pins for data (carcharger negotiation and automatic payment systems). it's a relatively small 3-phase high-current plug:
      As usual, the only "problem" with th

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We already have standards for electricity and connectors. Why not use them?

    IEC 60309
    3P+N+E, 6h

    • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @06:11PM (#35917300)
      Because then you might plug your car into any generic 3 phase outlet instead of the one dedicated to vehicular charging with the built in road tax metering.
      • Because there are always plenty of unattended 3 phase outlets lying around accessible for a car owner.
        • by PPH ( 736903 )

          If by unattended, you are implying that someone will charge their car using someone else's power (stealing it) that's not my point. I can have a three phase outlet put in my garage, ostensibly to plug my welder or Bridgeport mill into. But when the taxing authorities aren't looking, I can charge my EV with it.

          There is a great concern that EVs are bypassing the state/federal road taxes. Washington State is proposing an annual fee for EVs to recover this. But fixed annual fees are politically unpopular. Why

    • This type of connector should ideally have data pins associated with it in order for the car to be able to communicate with the charger, thereby determining what voltages and power ratings the car can accept. This is also useful in order to optimise the charging process. Modern batteries are ideally charged at different rates depending on their state of charge, so using a dumb connector could reduce charging performance.

      Basically for this kind of application you want a more flexible connector than simply "r

  • by fotoguzzi ( 230256 ) on Saturday April 23, 2011 @04:43PM (#35916828)
    When it comes time to design the plug, they should make sure it's non-tapered so that it has to be perfectly lined up to go in the socket. It should also be perfectly symmetrical so it takes ten minutes get it in the socket correctly.
  • That's it... they need the Flux Capacitor!
  • "EV Fast-Charging Standards In Flux" get it? Charging - flux? oooops,

  • The comments on the linked blog are much more informative than the ones in this Slashdot thread this time. The general consensus over there is that the German Mennekes (type II) connector is the one that will hopefully be used, as it is much more future-proof (3.7 - 43.5kW in one connector). Let's hope sanity wins in the end, and it wins over the other designs.

    Remember, we should all be aiming towards universality and quality, since this one decision will have a massive effect for years, possibly decades to

  • The EU has had different, better automotive lighting standards for years, as well. The US has not managed to catch up to these, either.

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