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A new supersonic jet, and more in the week that was

Tesla currently makes the world’s best electric vehicles, but Jaguar’s first EV could give the automaker a run for its money. Meet the I-Pace: a svelte, stylish electric SUV that’s faster than most sports cars and can drive 220 miles on a single charge. In other auto news, a new law requires all electric vehicles to make noise by the year 2019, and VW’s new e-Golf can drive further than the Nissan Leaf at 124 miles per charge. Long-haul flights are the worst, but a new supersonic jet called the Boom could cut them in half. And Noordung launched a stylish vintage-inspired e-bike with a built-in sound system.

Tesla is attempting to merge with SolarCity, and this week the automaker’s shareholders overwhelmingly approved the move. That’s great news:The company’s new solar roof is taking off, and some installations are already cost-competitive with grid-based electricity. Scandinavia is gearing up to build the world’s largest offshore turbine array, and when it’s complete it will produce the cheapest wind power on earth. At the COP22 climate conference France announced plans to shut down all coal plants by the year 2023, and Al Gore reached out to work with Donald Trump on climate change.

Seattle is building the world’s first flexible bridge, which will be able to withstand major earthquakes once it’s finished. In other design and technology news, BIG and Heatherwick Studio unveiled plans for Google’s new London HQ at King’s Cross. This year’s James Dyson Award went to a paper bike helmet that collapses down to a tiny form factor. Adidas announced plans to make 1 million pairs of sneakers from recycled ocean plastic, and a scientist was inspired by Back to the Future to create fabric that can harvest and store solar energy.

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Existing EV batteries could be recharged five times faster

Lithium-ion batteries have massively improved in the last half-decade, but there are still issues. The biggest, especially for EVs, is that charging takes too long to make them as useful as regular cars for highway driving. Researchers from the University of Warwick (WMG) have discovered that we may not need to be so patient, though. They developed a new type of sensor that measures internal battery temperatures and discovered that we can probably recharge them up to five times quicker without overheating problems.

Overcharging a lithium-ion battery anode can lead to lithium buildup, which can break through a battery's separator, create a short-circuit and cause catastrophic failure. That can cause the electrolyte to emit gases and literally blow up the battery, so manufacturers impose strict charging power limits to prevent it.

Those limits are based on hard-to-measure internal temperatures, however, which is where the WMG probe comes in. It's a fiber optic sensor, protected by a chemical layer that can be directly inserted into a lithium-ion cell to give highly precise thermal measurements without affecting its performance.

The team tested the sensor on standard 18650 li-ion cells, used in Tesla's Model S and X, among other EVs. They discovered that they can be charged five times faster than previously thought without damage. Such speeds would reduce battery life, but if used judiciously, the impact would be minimized, said lead researcher Dr. Tazdin Amietszajew.

Faster charging as always comes at the expense of overall battery life but many consumers would welcome the ability to charge a vehicle battery quickly when short journey times are required and then to switch to standard charge periods at other times.

There's still some work to do. While the research showed the li-ion cells can support higher temperatures, EVs and charging systems would have to have "precisely tuned profiles/limits" to prevent problems. It's also not clear how battery makers would install the sensors in the cells.

Nevertheless, it shows a lot of promise for much faster charging speeds in the near future. Even if battery capacities stayed the same, charging in 5 minutes instead of 25 could flip a lot of drivers over to the green side.

Via: Clean Technica

Source: University of Warwick