Charging Up the Future of Cell Phones

(DGIwire) – Sick of sitting on the airport floor in the vicinity of an electrical outlet while that cell phone charges up? Those days might be coming to an end in the not-too-distant future. According to a recent article in R&D Magazine, ZapGo Ltd., a company based in Oxford, England, is working on a new charger that utilizes cutting-edge technology to charge a cell phone in a matter of minutes.

The majority of electronic products—not just cell phones but also tablets, notebooks and many others—utilize Lithium-ion batteries, whose potential dangers have been well-publicized lately. For example, according to CBS News, a defect in the design of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone caused its Li-ion battery to overheat—and in some cases burst into flames—resulting in at least 13 reports of burns and 47 reports of property damage.

In addition to the inherent risks of Li-ion powered phones, Li-ion based portable chargers for cellphones have a separate drawback: they can take hours to fully charge. Think again about those airport scenes: why should busy passengers be so inconvenienced?

“One day, our grandchildren will marvel that charging cell phones was ever a problem,” says Stephen Voller, CEO and founder of ZapGo. “A series of well-publicized headlines have turned a spotlight on the limitations of traditional Li-ion battery technology and are spurring interest in high-tech alternatives that are currently under development.”

ZapGo’s Carbon-Ion™ cell (Zap&Go) is being developed as the first Carbon-Ion cell that combines the fast-charging characteristics of a supercapacitor and—within a few years—is anticipated to match the energy density of Li-ion batteries, while also being safe and recyclable. Unlike Li-ion, which works by an electrochemical reaction, Zap&Go involves storing electrons with no electrochemical reaction. This means there is nothing to get used up, so Zap&Go cells can last through many more charge and discharge cycles than Li-ion, while staying safe and not at risk for a fire.

ZapGo’s platform technology will first be incorporated into products such as cordless power tools, robotic cleaners and electric bikes available for sale during late 2017, where the recharge time will be reduced from hours to sub-five minutes of charging time. By 2020, the company envisions the technology as being practical for use in smartphones themselves, finally allowing mobile phones to be fully charged from empty in under five minutes.

“The last thing a lot of us think about is to plug in our phone and it is ridiculous that we are slaves to our devices,” adds Voller. “We shouldn’t be—and soon enough we won’t be.”

 

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