Fast Charging Comes to Road Vehicles

May 1, 2007
AeroVironment (AV, Monrovia, Calif.,, a producer of unmanned aircraft systems and efficient electric energy systems, performed a fast charge

AeroVironment (AV, Monrovia, Calif.,, a producer of unmanned aircraft systems and efficient electric energy systems, performed a fast charge demonstration of a lithium chemistry electric vehicle battery pack for representatives of the California Air Resources Board (CARB). The 35kWh (kilowatt-hour) battery pack, developed by Altair Nanotechnologies, is designed for use in the Phoenix Motorcar Sport Utility Truck. This battery pack is designed to allow the truck to travel more than 100 miles on a single charge. The test, conducted by engineers at AV’s Monrovia, Calif., Energy Technology Center, was a milestone in battery fast charging, demonstrating the capability of fully charging the pack in less than ten minutes.

Electric vehicles offer the potential to eliminate automobile-based emissions including carbon, which is frequently linked to global climate change. The on-board battery packs that supply electricity to electric vehicles are perceived as being unable to provide sufficient driving range to promote widespread consumer adoption. The expanded range of Altair Nanotechnologies’ new battery pack, combined with AV’s demonstrated ability to fast charge the pack in a short amount of time, represent a significant development that could broaden the appeal of electric vehicles to a wider segment of the automobile driving population.

“This is an important step forward in demonstrating a key infrastructure element required to support zero emission vehicles,” said Joe Edwards, vice president and general manager of AV’s Energy Technology Center. “Our PosiCharge fast charge technology has demonstrated itself to be reliable for the daily operation of thousands of heavily used, low voltage electric industrial vehicles throughout North America. Our ability to fast charge high voltage battery packs used in consumer electric vehicles safely and in such a short period of time will help to extend the useful range of these vehicles greatly, eliminating a significant objection to their use in everyday applications.”

AV engineers used a grid-connected AV advanced battery charger rated at 250kW. Prior testing of the Altairnano NanoSafe battery technology by AV demonstrated that such battery packs can sustain several cycles per day of ten minute charging and two hour discharging. Each cycle is equivalent to an electric vehicle traveling for two hours at 60 miles per hour.

AV was a pioneer in the conception and development of alternative energy vehicles such as the solar-powered GM Sunraycer, winner of the 1987 Australian Solar Challenge, the all-electric GM Impact, prototype for General Motors’ EV-1 electric automobile, and several project-based hybrid electric and fuel cell powered vehicles. AV created one of the first fast charge systems for early consumer electric vehicles. Its PosiCharge fast charge systems now support thousands of electric industrial utility vehicles in daily use throughout North America.