High-power charging: Espresso refueling stops for electric cars

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High-power charging has reached Germany. In future, a brief coffee break will be enough to fully charge your electromobile. Except that suitable cars will not become available until next year.

Germany’s first 350 kilowatt turbocharger station recently became available at the Brohltal-Ost service area for impatient electric car drivers. It is part of the pan-European high-power charging network (HPC) and delivers up to seven times more power than existing charging stations. This means that “Ionity” – comprising Daimler, BMW, Audi, Porsche and Ford – even surpasses Tesla’s highly acclaimed supercharger network. On the down side, auto manufacturers will not be delivering suitable cars until next year.

New e-models, an extensive charging infrastructure and brief charging times – everything needs to move quickly now. In two years’ time the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI) expects there to be up to 15,000 charging stations in Germany. At present there are about 9,500, around 8,000 of which offer up to 22 kilowatts, only 1,300 of them can speed up the charging process by offering 50 kilowatts or more.

Turbo e-refueling stations are even rarer. Only Tesla’s supercharger network, with about 400 locations and more than 3,200 charging points, promises “fast refueling” – for a range of up to 270 kilometers in about 30 minutes. Ionity’s HPC charges the battery for only 12 minutes to give an additional 400 kilometers. The necessary electricity is supplied by energy supplier Polarstern from Germany’s run-of-river power stations.

By 2020, the high power charging network (HPC) is expected to incorporate 400 charging stations in 24 countries, more than 100 of which are to be completed by the end of this year. After all, the new generation of electromobiles is already champing at the bit. Without an efficient charging infrastructure, the sales figures for electric racers from Audi, Mercedes, Porsche etc. are likely to be on the modest side.

High-power charging “on the rocks”

high power charging
This high power consumption calls for cooling of contacts and cables. (Image: Phoenix Contact).

Like all Ionity HPC charging stations, Brohltal Ost also has six charging points compliant with the European standard “Combined Charging System” (CCS). With a suitable vehicle at the other end of the cable, their up to 350 kW of power offers significantly shorter charging times. However, this calls for voltages of up to 1,000 volts and currents of up to 400 amperes. That represents a lot of heat – enough to boil a liter of water in under a second. For this reason the charging plugs and cables are liquid cooled and monitored by temperature sensors.

Since the Combined Charging System (CCS) requires charging stations to be backwards compatible, even “slow chargers” can now enjoy a snack while they wait for a fully charged battery.

 


Find out more about charging technologies at electronica Automotive Conference.

 

 

 

High-power charging (Image: Ionity)

Stylish 350 kW fast chargers recharge the electric car during a brief espresso break. (Image: Ionity).