Professional Power Tool Users: Time to Look Beyond Lithium-Ion

(DGIwire) – Reliable power tools are crucial to maintaining the reputations of electrical, cable and telecom companies. However, as recently reported in Utility Products magazine, engineers and field technicians are bound by the technical limitations of Lithium-ion battery packs, which present a series of drawbacks.

For example, if there has been insufficient time to recharge the tools since the last job, the workers will appear unprofessional and unprepared, the magazine reports. The nearest socket may be located at a distance from the worksite, so time and effort is wasted swapping out batteries. In addition, Lithium-ion battery packs have a relatively short life cycle. Furthermore, even if charged, Lithium-ion battery packs are known to pose a potential safety risk, with spontaneous fires a possibility.

“In contrast to Lithium-ion, cordless tools powered by a recently developed technology—known as Carbon-Ion—can be fully charged in minutes rather than hours, eliminating the need for technicians to waste time waiting at a worksite,” says Stephen Voller, CEO and founder of ZapGo Ltd. “Among their many additional advantages, they last much longer that their Lithium-ion counterparts—up to 100,000 charge/discharge cycles.”

Furthermore, according to Voller, Carbon-Ion powered tools also provide a contact torque so the tools can be relied on to turn the motor to complete the job—utility professionals might notice reduced torque in Lithium-ion tools.

As noted in Utility Products, Carbon-Ion cells combine the fast-charging characteristics of a supercapactitor and—within a few years—are anticipated to match the energy density of Lithium-ion batteries, while also being safe and recyclable. Unlike Lithium-ion, which is a battery and works by an electrochemical reaction that is the source of the 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—called an “ionic electrolyte”—that does not contain any of the flammable chemicals in the “organic electrolytes” used in Lithium-ion batteries.

Although Carbon-Ion cells are not intended to be retrofitted into existing tools that currently employ Lithium-ion batteries, work has already begun to design and build a new generation of cordless tools that incorporate Carbon-Ion cells, Utility Products reports. At CES 2017, an 18-volt power drill was showcased where the recharge time was reduced from 30 minutes to less than two minutes—and the product will be available for purchase in 2018.

“For many reasons, Carbon-Ion represents a potential way forward that could benefit a range of utility companies and their customers alike,” Voller adds.