Shaping the Future of Energy Storage

(DGIwire) – Lithium-ion batteries are widely used in consumer electronics and electric vehicles (EVs) because they pack a powerful punch—with what’s called a “high energy density.” But they also contain highly flammable chemicals, called electrolytes, that can become unsafe if overcharged. While work is ongoing to address this problem, another solution has presented itself: supercapacitors, which store and deliver electrical energy at “super” speeds. So notes Stephen Voller—the CEO of ZapGo Ltd, the developer of Carbon-Ion™ (C-Ion®) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries—in a recent interview in Chemicals Knowledge Hub.

As noted in the interview, Voller founded ZapGo to produce C-Ion technology, which was originally developed at Oxford University. Although traditional supercapacitors remain flammable, C-Ion cells use nanocarbons and ionic electrolytes that work safely at higher voltages, and offers increased energy density.

“C-Ion technology is a faster-charging, environmentally friendly, safer alternative to rechargeable batteries,” Voller says. “It is being implemented today in a variety of products, combining the capacity and slow discharge performance of lithium-ion batteries with the time to charge and safety of supercapacitors.”

According to Voller, ZapGo’s C-Ion cells are less likely to overheat, simply because there are no electrochemical reactions inside them that would cause them to do so. Instead an ionic reaction takes place, similar to static electricity. This is also the secret of the C-Ion cell’s long life, since there are no substances to be used up.

Voller reports that ZapGo is targeting a range of verticals, from toys and transportation to power tools and cleaning devices. The company has already incorporated its C-Ion cells into a variety of prototype products that will eventually be targeted to the consumer market. These include a functioning electric scooter; a powered bicycle energy pack; a Bluetooth five-minute charging speaker; an 18-volt power drill; and a cordless cleaner. In each of these cases, the recharge time was reduced from hours to less than five minutes.

In addition, C-Ion could prove helpful to nations around the world that are seeking to convert their gasoline-powered vehicles to all-electric in the coming decades. The cells could be installed not only in the vehicles themselves but also be installed on large containers at filling station sites. Thanks to the ultra fast charging capabilities of C-Ion, vehicles could be charged up at a rate of 350kWh, drastically reducing the recharge times for owners of battery electric vehicles.

“Due to its wide range of benefits and its considerable versatility, C-Ion could form the basis of a new and exciting paradigm for technologies large and small that require require convenient, fast recharging,” Voller adds.