Raleigh, N.C. — Owners of plug-in electric vehicles can use one of Raleigh’s public chargers to bring their battery life from zero to 100 percent battery in about four hours.
But new technology at North Carolina State University can cut that time to just one hour.
Ewan Pritchard, a professor with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, used a plug-in Nissan Leaf on Friday to demonstrate the fast charger on Centennial Campus.
“This is the first fast-charging station on the East Coast,” he said.
A full battery would give the car a range of about 90 miles. When he starts charging, the battery is at 72 percent. Within a couple of minutes, it's at 78 percent.
About 20 minutes after plugging in, the Leaf's battery was charged and ready to go.
Pritchard says the technology is even more impressive when the battery starts below 50 percent.
“It'll charge very aggressively for the first 50 percent,” he said. “It can do that within about 10 minutes.”
One of the hurdles to electric car usage is how slowly the battery charges, but rapid-charging technology could change that mindset, Pritchard said.
A network of these stations would allow drivers to go longer distances without having to worry about taking hours to recharge.
“Along the East Coast, in the Northeast, we've started building it,” Pritchard said. “We're talking about it quite a bit along the highway system in North Carolina.”
There is one barrier, however. The machines are expensive, costing about $30,000 each, and they require a specialized commercial electrical system to draw enough power for use.