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Transportation Power

How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site? 190

cartechboy writes Tesla's Superchargers are the talk of the electric car community. These charging stations can take a Model S battery pack from nearly empty to about 150 miles of range in around 30 minutes. That's crazy fast, and it's nothing short of impressive. But what does it take to actually build a Tesla Supercharger site? Apparently a lot of digging. A massive trench is created to run high-capacity electric cables before the charging stations themselves are even installed. A diagram and photos of the Electric Conduit Construction build out have surfaced on the Internet. The conduits connect the charging stations to a power distribution center, which in turn is connected to a transformer that provides the power for charging cars. It took 11 days to install the six charging stalls in Goodland, Kansas. If you thought it was a quick process to build a Supercharger station, you were clearly wrong.
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How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site?

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  • by brambus ( 3457531 ) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @08:55PM (#47725341)
    As far as I could discern, in the 11 days listed here all they did was install the charging ports at a place which already had suitable electrical infrastructure (at a hotel parking lot). It wasn't a full service station in the middle of nowhere. Also, look at service capacity. It takes ~30 minutes to "refuel" a Tesla Model S with 150 miles of extra range. A gas station, meanwhile, will easily do 400+ miles in less than 5 minutes, so it has about 16x higher overall throughput - for a single gas pump you'd need to install about 16 charging stations. Now of course gas stations don't always have fully occupied pumps and that's the point, so that almost whenever you arrive, there's a free pump available. Replace all the cars on the long-distance highway with EVs and you'll need a service station about an order of magnitude larger in size (i.e. your typical 12-pump gas station [] becomes a parking lot with over 100 chargers []). Hydrocarbon fuels have their advantages and high energy density is one of them. The problem isn't the fuel itself, it's the source. If we made hydrocarbon fuels (e.g. dimethyl ether []) from electricity in a carbon-neutral way, you could view them as a very dense chemical battery with pretty much infinite cycles, no charge loss, insanely quick recharge times and all support infrastructure already in place.
  • by kriston ( 7886 ) on Friday August 22, 2014 @01:40AM (#47726523) Homepage Journal

    Thirty minutes is ridiculous. That is not "rapid" ANYTHING.

    The only real solution is to streamline the process of swapping out battery packs, or, ideally, hydrogen fuel cells.

    This is where hydrogen fuel cells really make sense. They are the ultimate battery pack. They are interchangeable modules. You stop at a filling station and replace your depleted fuel cell with a full one in fewer than five minutes.

    I know Tesla has a battery pack replacement service, but it really needs to be affordable and streamlined and not require expensive robotics.

    NOBODY wants to wait thirty minutes for "rapid recharge." The money spent on this infrastructure should, instead, be spent on optimizing the use of hydrogen fuel cells. They are the ultimate battery and they don't wear out.

  • Re:That's not quick? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mikeiver1 ( 1630021 ) on Friday August 22, 2014 @01:52AM (#47726565)
    Having just completed a 6 charger installation I can tell you that the digging is the hard part. In our case it was a little over 3 weeks start to finish due to allot of landscaping and blacktop work as well as installing a dedicated half mega Watt transformer complete with piping to the utility service box some 90' under a road that we could not disturb. On the technical side, the prints are fairly detailed and the charging stations and controllers (one charge controller per pair of stations) are well engineered. The insides are modular and have a liquid cooling system for the 12 charge packs. Each charge cabinet is fed with 3 phase, 480VAC at 175Amps. The output of the controller can be as high as 410VDC at 120Amps per charge station. Of course I doubt it ever really gets there. Ultimately, for the electrician, it is a simple install and nothing to technical.

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe