An Electric Vehicle That Charges in Five Minutes? It Could Be On the Way

(DGIwire) – Filling up at a service station is so easy with a gasoline-powered car: five minutes later, the driver is back on the road. For the electric vehicle (EV) revolution to become a reality, EVs must match this timeframe—or else drivers are unlikely to be willing to make the switch in large numbers. As a result, many companies are working on ways to make faster charging a reality, as a recent article in Charged magazine notes.

“Imagine an EV that could add 300 miles of range with a five-minute charge,” says Stephen Voller, CEO of ZapGo Ltd, the developer of Carbon-Ion™ (C-Ion®) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries. “New technology that looks beyond the limits of traditional lithium-ion batteries could make it possible.”

As the Charged article reports, ZapGo believes its energy storage technology is key to making this scenario a reality. Part of the success of C-Ion lies in the fact that it can charge very quickly, in a way that existing devices called supercapacitors are able to do. In fact, C-Ion cells are currently able to store five to six times as much energy per kilogram as commercially available supercapacitors. But unlike supercapacitors, which tend to lose their charge relatively quickly, C-Ion cells can also hold onto that charge for a long time, as commercially available batteries can.

According to Charged, the current generation of ZapGo’s C-Ion technology is optimized for consumer products such as hand tools and electric lawn mowers. But the company is looking ahead to moving its products into the EV and grid storage markets. As Voller notes in the article, this could involve a two-step process, beginning with the manufacture of vehicles that offer a hybrid of existing lithium batteries and C-Ion cells. For example, Williams Advanced Engineering, part of the Williams Advanced Formula One team, is developing a control system to allow a vehicle to use C-Ion and lithium-ion side by side on the same vehicle. The second step in this process would be to replace the lithium completely, because doing so would be both safer and more affordable.

In addition to enhancing its C-Ion cells so that they can meet or exceed the energy of lithium-ion car batteries, ZapGo has also envisioned integrating its cells into the chassis of a vehicle itself. Instead of having individual cells, these structures could hold a charge in a way that dramatically reduces the cost of the vehicle.

With regard to the need for five-minute charging, a charging rate of about one megawatt—higher than anything currently available—could result in a recharging time in this range for cars. Voller has suggested that C-Ion cells can safely transfer charge to C-Ion powered EVs using extremely fast charging rates at filling stations, without the need to install new grid infrastructure, that could do the job in five minutes.

“Pondering the future of the EV revolution is tremendously exciting and there is a significant role in it for new charging technologies, including what is being made possible by C-Ion cells,” Voller adds.

 

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