Barely two weeks ago, CATL presented its new Qilin batteries (or Kirin, if transcribed in English) with which the Chinese manufacturer announced a very significant improvement in performance compared to the previous generation of this technology. Among other things, CATL announced a recharge up to 80% in 10 minutes, but the company already promises to cut that time in half.
CATL’s Qilin batteries will go into mass production starting next year. It is the third generation of cell-to-pack batteries (CTP), which are packaged without modules. One of the improvements of these new batteries has to do with the use of space: according to the manufacturer, Qilin batteries use 72% of the battery volume to install active material, that is, cells that can store energy. In the first generation, presented in 2019, only 55% of the total volume of the battery was used.
In addition to making better use of space, they offer high energy density. There will be two types of chemistry for these batteries: NCM (nickel, cobalt and manganese) have 250 Wh/kg gravimetric energy density, while the version LFP (lithium ferrophosphate) offer 160 Wh/kg. The latter also offer a production with lower costs. Taking into account the energy density and the use of space, these batteries will be able to offer up to 1,000 kilometers of autonomy in an electric car.
As if all this were not enough, CATL spoke of a fast recharge from 10 to 80% in just ten minutes. More or less what it can take to order a coffee and drink it. But the thing does not end there, because the company – which we remember is the largest manufacturer of batteries for electric vehicles in the world – already promises even faster recharges. As much as to cut the time mentioned above in half, offering a fast charge up to 80% in just 5 minutes. Another goal for the next generation of batteries is to achieve an energy density of 330 Wh/kg, which would mean a 32% improvement over Qilin batteries.
That is, at least, what CATL has published in the R&D section of its website, where there are some interesting facts about the technology they currently have and the one they are preparing for the future. Regarding the recharge speed, CATL has several lines of research. The Chinese company speaks of a electronic “super grid” which increases the speed of response of the cathode to charging signals; superconducting electrolytes that allow to increase the transmission speed of lithium ions (and therefore the charging speed); or a high porosity separator Capable of shortening the average transmission distance and lowering the transmission resistance of lithium ions.
At the moment these innovations must be taken with caution, since they are technologies in the process of development of which we do not know if they will reach production. Nevertheless, it is clear that if anyone can carry it out it is CATL, whose economic and scientific muscle is in top shape and at the forefront of the industry. Technology is often talked about promising the sky, however CATL is in a position to bring to the street a battery that recharges up to 80% in just 5 minutes. The question that remains to be asked is when.
For the moment, from next year it will begin to mass-produce Qilin batteries, which will already allow recharging up to 80% in 10 minutes of charging. For this it has been essential to improve the liquid cooling system of the battery: in the new batteries the heat transfer surface has been increased by four thanks to cooling elements placed between neighboring cells. This allows the cell to cool “rapidly under extreme circumstances” and prevents heat conduction between cells, ie prevents thermal runaway.