New technology to make charging electric cars as fast as pumping gas
A pictorial illustration of today's electric vehicle versus the future vehicle based on quantum battery technologies. Employing quantum charging would lead to a 200 times speedup in a typical EV, which means that the charging time would be cut from 10 hours to about 3 minutes (at home), or 30 minutes to 9 seconds at a charging station. Credit: Institute for Basic Science

Human civilization must turn to renewable energy sooner or later. The finite nature of fossil fuels and the ever-growing energy demands of humanity make this inevitable. Electricity is the main energy carrier in most of the alternative sources of energy. The world adopted new products and devices running on renewable sources of energy. The adoption of electric vehicles was the most striking change. Millions of electric cars are being sold each year, which is a big change from 10 years ago. The electric car market is growing fast.

Electric vehicles rely on batteries as the storage medium for their energy, unlike traditional cars, which rely on the combustion of fuels. For a long time, batteries had lower energy densities than hydrocarbons, which resulted in low ranges of early electric vehicles. The drive ranges of electric cars were eventually allowed to be within acceptable levels, thanks to gradual improvement in battery technologies. The improvement in battery storage technology was one of the main technical challenges that had to be solved in order to kick start the electric vehicle revolution.

Slow battery charging speed is one of the difficulties electric vehicle consumers face. Cars take about 10 hours to fully charge. The fastest charging stations take up to 40 minutes to fully charge the vehicles. This makes it more difficult for the customers.

Scientists looked for answers in the field of quantum physics. Their search led to the discovery that quantum technologies may be able to charge batteries at a faster rate. In 2012 a paper was published by Alicki and Fannes about quantum battery technology. It was thought that quantum resources, such as entanglement, could be used to vastly speed up the battery charging process by charging all cells within the battery simultaneously in a collective manner.

Modern, high-capacity batteries can hold many cells. In classical batteries, the cells are charged in parallel, so collective charging is not possible. The quantum charging advantage is the ratio of the collective versus parallel charging advantage. Researchers noticed that there can be two possible sources behind this quantum advantage, one of which is all-to-allcoupling. It's not clear whether these sources are necessary or whether there are limits to the charging speed that can be achieved.

The Center for Theoretical Physics of Complex Systems within the Institute for Basic Science explored these questions recently. The paper, which was chosen as an Editors Suggestion in the journal Physical Review Letters, showed that the presence of global operations is the only ingredient in the quantum advantage. The group went further to identify the exact source of the advantage and even provided an explicit way of designing such batteries.

The group was able to quantify how much charging speed can be achieved. The study showed that quantum batteries with global operation can achieve the same charging speed as classical batteries. A typical electric vehicle has a battery that contains 200 cells. It would take about 3 minutes to charge a classical battery at home, but with quantum charging it would take 200 times less time. The charge time would be cut in half at high-speed charging stations.

The implications of quantum charging can go well beyond electric cars and consumer electronics, according to researchers. Future fusion power plants will require large amounts of energy to be charged and discharged in an instant, so it may find key uses. There is a long way to go before quantum technologies can be used in practice. Funding agencies and businesses can be incentivized to invest in these technologies if research findings such as these are found.

More information: Quantum Charging Advantage Cannot Be Extensive Without Global Operations, arXiv:2108.02491 [quant-ph] Journal information: Physical Review Letters Citation: Quantum technology could make charging electric cars as fast as pumping gas (2022, March 21) retrieved 21 March 2022 from This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.