We May Have Solved the EV Recharge Problem a Decade Ago

Jason Lomberg, North American Editor, PSD



The main roadblock to widespread EV adoption may have already been solved…in theory.

For as far along the technological spectrum that electric vehicles drift, there’s one persistent issue dogging it, and we’ve all known this since the beginning – recharge speed and its unfavorable comparison to internal combustion engines.

While the average U.S. daily commute (32 miles, roundtrip) is well within EVs’ electric range (100-300 miles/charge and rising), not everyone is comfortable driving a vehicle that can’t be refueled everywhere (or quickly).

Even the fastest quickcharge systems take around 20-40 minutes, and at the very least, that forces EV owners to plan in advance.

And that’s to say nothing of roadtrips, where many EVs just don’t cut it.

But we may have had the solution for at least a decade…on paper.

In 2012, Theoretical physicists Robert Alicki and Mark Fannes described the nearly-perfect entangled quantum battery, where no energy is lost in the transfer. If the notion of entanglement were introduced to quantum batteries, more work could be extracted from the system, and this could eventually lead to a pristine energy transfer.

While the practicalities of a real-life application could introduce inefficiencies, muddying the idea of perfection, the physicists pointed to photosynthesis as a practical example of perfect energy transfer.

As South Korea’s Institute for Basic Science later pointed out in 2017, there could be two possible sources for the “quantum charging advantage” – “global operation” (in which all the cells talk to all others simultaneously, i.e., “all sitting at one table”) and “all-to-all coupling”.

Employing “global operation” with quantum batteries could boost the recharging speed quadratically, so for example, an at-home recharge could drop from 10 hours to 3 minutes and a high-speed recharging station could go from 30 minutes to seconds.

Again, that’s in theory, and any number of real-world considerations, like thermal management, could derail perfection, but we appear to at least be headed in that direction.

EVs, consumer electronics, and even futuristic fusion power plants – which require large amounts of energy to be charged and discharged in an instant – are increasingly demanding more efficient (and quicker-recharge) batteries. The need is clearly there, and the next big business opportunity could be in the area of functional quantum batteries.

The Institute for Basic Science added that “If employed, it is believed that quantum batteries would completely revolutionize the way we use energy and take us a step closer to our sustainable future.”