BMW, which has been leading a consortium of companies in the three-year FastCharge research project since July 2016, is studying how to shorten charging times and the associated infrastructure and to build the respective prototypes
The charging time of electric vehicles depends mainly on current and voltage: the higher the voltage and amperage, the faster the battery can be filled. However, in real life application, these factors cannot be increased at will. This is why the FastCharge project focuses on the study of the technical and physical limits of all components and systems involved in charging, both in the vehicle and the infrastructure.
The anticipated charging capacity is up to 450 kilowatts, three times the maximum charging capacity available at stations today. A voltage of 900 volts and an amplitude of 500 amperes for a projected charging time of under 15 minutes pose major challenges on all components involved.
Researchers are looking at ways to cool down charging cables, plugs and vehicle power sockets during the charging process, allowing for the use of more flexible cables with smaller diameters that can be handled like today’s fuel hoses.
FastCharge is adopting the plugs and standards of the Combined Charging System (CCS), which has stood the test of everyday operations in today’s series-production electric cars. This would mean that vehicles with lower current and voltage demands can easily be serviced at the fast-charging stations too.
The collaborative project is studying all aspects of fast charging in practical application, aiming to introduce and manufacture the required technologies on an industrial scale as well as coming up with an automated registration and billing process for customers.
The consortium hopes to introduce a working prototype early next year and help promote market acceptance of electric cars.
Other participants in the BMW-led project are Allego GmbH, Phoenix Contact E-Mobility GmbH, Porsche AG and Siemens AG. The German government is supporting the FastCharge project with € 7.8 million grant, with the National Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology Organization overseeing compliance with the grant requirements.