In North Carolina, a Battery Revolution May Be Brewing

(DGIwire) – In 1903, North Carolina hosted the Wright Brothers’ first-ever airplane flight. More than a century later, the state is still the home of technical innovation. One manifestation is the “Joules Accelerator,” a Charlotte, North Carolina-based program initiated in 2013 and dedicated to advancing the city’s reputation as a hub for energy-focused companies. The goals of the program include piloting new ideas and creating new jobs in the region. As the Charlotte Business Journal recently reported, one of the eight companies (out of 150 competitors) chosen to participate in the program this year is ZapGo, Inc., the developer of Carbon-Ion™ (C-Ion®) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries. The company is jointly based in Oxford, England and Charlotte.

“Charlotte is the optimal location for ZapGo’s U.S. operations,” says Stephen Voller, CEO of ZapGo. “And the company’s participation in the Joules Accelerator provided us with business connections and helped spread the word on the Carbon-Ion cell technology we developed.”

Carbon-Ion cells combine the fast-charging characteristics of a supercapacitor and will soon match the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, while also being safe and recyclable (unlike lithium-ion). Also unlike lithium-ion, which is a battery and works by an electrochemical reaction that is the source of risks that have been publicized by the media, Carbon-Ion cells pose no similar risk. This is because they incorporate a new, less-volatile type of electrolyte that does not contain any flammable chemicals.

The company is currently working on incorporating its Carbon-Ion cells into a grid storage  product, which will be used to buffer the grid, allowing DC fast charging for EVs, buses and trucks initially at 350 Kwh but soon at 1 Mwh rates using a normal grid connection.

Carbon-Ion cells have also been incorporated into GATEway pods, the autonomous vehicles at London’s Heathrow Airport that transport passengers from Terminal 5 to parking areas. Recharging times that previously took four hours have now been reduced to 35 seconds with the help of Carbon-Ion cells.

“Work on Carbon-Ion technology that is taking place in Charlotte as well as in the UK could set the stage for a new era in battery technology for a wide range of lithium-ion-powered devices,” Voller adds.