Automotive

Dawn of the 900-kW EV ultra-charger, and a battery that can handle it

Dawn of the 900-kW EV ultra-ch...
Desten's demo car looks like it'd be a hoot to drive
Desten's demo car looks like it'd be a hoot to drive
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Desten's demo car looks like it'd be a hoot to drive
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Desten's demo car looks like it'd be a hoot to drive
The demo car's battery pack appears to be specced the same as the Piech sports car, offering a 500-km range with sub-5 minute 0-80-percent ultra-charging
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The demo car's battery pack appears to be specced the same as the Piech sports car, offering a 500-km range with sub-5 minute 0-80-percent ultra-charging
Piech and Desten will also sell you a 900-kilowatt ultracharger for your home, in case you don't plan to stay there more than five minutes
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Piech and Desten will also sell you a 900-kilowatt ultracharger for your home, in case you don't plan to stay there more than five minutes
Desten's ultra-fast charge stations will have their own bulk energy storage on site, apparently in the form of a shipping container-sized battery block acting as a buffer between the grid and the car
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Desten's ultra-fast charge stations will have their own bulk energy storage on site, apparently in the form of a shipping container-sized battery block acting as a buffer between the grid and the car
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How fast does an EV charger have to be to completely eliminate range anxiety – and can our power grids cope with ultra-chargers drawing 0.9 megawatts at full blast? It seems we're going to find out. Hong Kong company Desten is hitting the road to demo a remarkable EV battery and charger combination that's 2.5 times faster than the industry-leading beast that ABB revealed earlier this week.

We first heard about this monster of a system in 2019, when it was announced as the energy storage for a new electric sportscar from Piëch, a company born of European automobile royalty. The Piëch Mark Zero looked like a jolly good sports car for people who are into that sort of thing, but the battery claimed next-level capabilities. Offering a 500 km (311 miles) of WLTP range, Piëch announced it could charge from 0-80 percent in just 4 minutes, 40 seconds.

Piech and Desten will also sell you a 900-kilowatt ultracharger for your home, in case you don't plan to stay there more than five minutes
Piech and Desten will also sell you a 900-kilowatt ultracharger for your home, in case you don't plan to stay there more than five minutes

That's scarcely longer than it takes to fill up a gas tank. Some companies like to rate their chargers by miles (of range added) per hour – Tesla's V3 superchargers, for example, offer about 1,610 km per hour (1,000 miles per hour), operating at 250 kW. On that scale, the Desten charger would give you 8,253 km per hour 5,128 miles per hour). Outrageous.

Heat is typically the enemy when it comes to fast charging and discharging of batteries, but Desten claims to have eliminated this as an issue. Operating across a broad range of ambient temperatures, Desten says these batteries heat up by only ~15 °C (27 °F), even at their max charge/discharge rate of 10C.

Each 19-Ah cell is rated for more than 3,000 charge/discharge cycles, or about 1.5 million km (930,000 miles) in an EV, so longevity is certainly not the sacrifice here – the main drawback seems to be specific energy. Where the Tesla Model 3 battery pack carries 260 Wh/kg of energy, the Desten cells can only give you 160 Wh/kg. Mind you, the overall system will save weight measured against some competitors simply because it doesn't require any liquid cooling.

And anyway, when you've got a car that drives 500 km on a charge, and charges in less than five minutes, specific energy gets a lot less interesting as a metric. You're charging it slow and cheap overnight at home or the office for 99 percent of the time, and on the rare occasion where you need to drive more than 400 km in a day, you can blast it back to 80 percent before the barista's got your coffee done.

This, of course, is in a perfect world where 900-kW ultra-fast chargers are as readily accessible as gas stations are today, which they manifestly are not. And if they were, and they were in regular usage, would the power grid be able to cope with multiple instant load spikes, each pulling nearly a megawatt for five minutes?

Desten's ultra-fast charge stations will have their own bulk energy storage on site, apparently in the form of a shipping container-sized battery block acting as a buffer between the grid and the car
Desten's ultra-fast charge stations will have their own bulk energy storage on site, apparently in the form of a shipping container-sized battery block acting as a buffer between the grid and the car

Possibly, yes – because it seems Desten plans to put a considerable amount of buffer battery between the car and the grid. The same batteries, it appears, as the ones in the car's pack, so they'll be capable of discharging fast enough to max out the cars' charge rates. These buffer batteries will charge much slower throughout the day, fed by grid power.

The company says nothing about two-way charging on its website, but these big buffer batteries could theoretically be terrifically handy as super-responsive grid-stabilizing load spike balancers across the energy network when there are no cars connected. So, again theoretically, these ultra-chargers may actually end up being a helpful addition to the power grid as opposed to a critical drain.

Desten is launching the battery and charger system this week, oddly enough with a traveling roadshow starting in Jakarta, Indonesia, then moving through Asia, the Middle East, Europe and North America. The company has built a little car for the demo tour, apparently minus bodywork. It'll certainly be riveting stuff watching a battery charging showcase, and we do wonder how it'll really prove the technology.

The demo car's battery pack appears to be specced the same as the Piech sports car, offering a 500-km range with sub-5 minute 0-80-percent ultra-charging
The demo car's battery pack appears to be specced the same as the Piech sports car, offering a 500-km range with sub-5 minute 0-80-percent ultra-charging

Desten's press release informs us that "with UN 38.3 certification, the battery has passed all safety tests, making it an ideal technology for automotive-grade battery solutions." This sounds pretty significant, until you look up the UN/DOT 38.3 standard and discover that it's got nothing to do with automotive-grade certification. The 38.3 Transportation Testing requirements simply validate that lithium batteries are safe to ship around by air, sea, rail or road. So, hooray, they won't explode on the plane.

This kind of thing, and a lack of any information on price, or how these batteries deal with heat so well at high charge/discharge rates, makes us pump the brakes on our enthusiasm. Desten is making extraordinary claims here, which will need to be backed up with extraordinary evidence. Then these batteries and chargers will need to prove themselves automotive standards compliant as well as price-competitive in applications far more quotidian than high-end European sportscars ... And production will need to be ramped way up from the current rate of "double-digit MWh" annually.

It'll be a long time, in other words, and many stars will need to align before the highways are dotted with 900-kilowatt Desten ultra-chargers. But still, the prospect of a five-minute, 400-km top-up that doesn't wreck the battery? That'd do a lot to break through the few remaining barriers to EV adoption. We wish the company well and hope to see more industry traction in the coming months.

Source Desten Group

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19 comments
19 comments
anthony88
Not coming to Australia, where the government is dreaming of coal-fired combustion engines.
guzmanchinky
I cannot wait for quick charging at a gas station. It's coming in the next decade or less. Bye bye oil...
Aross
All this effort to develop faster charging longer range batteries to me is taking too long when a better option would be to develop a system where in a few minutes the battery/s can be swapped out with a fully charged replacement.

When, on a long drive say from Canada to Venice Florida, in my gas guzzling Grand Caravan, I average just over 1 tank of gas per day when I start with a full tank getting roughly 700km per tank. It costs me about 5 minutes per day in lost driving time unless the timing is such that I can fill up at the beginning or the end of the day's drive.

The current technology with fast charging costs too much time in recharging and once on the road getting only 80% recharge in 5 minutes means additional lost time as it will have to be done more often. None of these numbers take into account the extra loss of distance in the winter when heating and defrosting of windows and reduced daylight hours will eat into the available distance in the batteries.

Now add a trailer to the mix and who knows how many times one will need to recharge.
Oirinth
A fast charger/battery combo is great for the longer distance journeys but will require a network of charging stations and you'll pay a premium for it. For most electric car owners charging is limited to household rates of 7.2KW/14.4KW ( 30A/60A @ 240v ) so overnight or longer term daily charging is fine, what would be useful is larger/lighter batteries that can give you increased range where you can top up every time you park at home/work, preferably without a "memory" effect so you can just keep on topping up instead of running to flat and quick charging to full
jerryd
I own 8 yr old LG pouch/Volt cells that can easily do this. And with larger, thicker connections could do that spec.
I think hey are wiffing on the 0- p[art as hard to charge full power on a dead cell. It takes a bit before it can and would heat up most that first 5 %.,
Since there were no chargers and still are not and not likely anytime soon the fastest way to fastest charging is light weight and aero so a 30kwh pack can go 300 miles that can be charged in 5 minutes from existing 150kw SCs.
I'm building one to do that wthr/mile now. We also did a Karmen Ghia that got 100wthr/mile for reference.
Catweazle
Having seen the destructive capabilities of industrial level mishaps with high voltage and current systems I would have some reservations about permitting the general public access to a plug-in connector system carrying 0.9 megawatts, myself!
MDR
Range anxiety seems an affliction confined to those who don't drive BEV
Signguy
The article brought up the most important think that people ignore; when more cars can top off quickly, the power grid will be completely overwhelmed. Blackouts will be common unless someone comes up with a better idea.
Adrian Akau
Development of a new power grid may be necessary. It should be interconnected with the grids from other states to make it a national grid system.
joe46
"Each 19-Ah cell is rated for more than 3,000 charge/discharge cycles"...I take it that's for slow charging, consistent rapid charging will greatly deteriorate that, as with any battery.
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