New technology that would allow electric vehicles to be fully charged in minutes instead of hours is just around the corner, according to a UK development firm.
Oxford-based Zap&Go has set its sights on using its ‘carbon-ion’ cells to slash the time it currently takes to power-up EVs.
The company, which is based at the Harwell Research Campus and has a US subsidiary in North Carolina, has posted a video online showing how its “instant charging” technology can already be used to charge appliances such as power drills in a matter of seconds.
Now Zap&Go is to start manufacturing commercial quantities of its next-generation power cells next year under a deal with China’s Li-Fun Technology Co Ltd – a large-scale manufacturer of lithium-ion polymer rechargeable batteries in Hunan Province.
To achieve “almost instant charging”, Zap&Go said its carbon-ion cells are built into both a power pack and a cordless device, such as a drill, “so the energy transfer occurs directly from one to the other”.
“With this technology, the charge rate is not dependent on how much energy the batteries can take in, or on the output of the electrical grid, as it is with conventional lithium-ion batteries,” the company said.
Zap&Go CEO Stephen Voller said: “Charging an EV can take hours. What’s more, if a street is full of charging posts and an EV is plugged into every one of them, can current electrical grids handle the additional load? If new technology is not adapted, we may find that the lights in the nearby houses go out or see scuffles between drivers for an available charge point.”
Voller said: “We have successfully demonstrated how to reduce recharge times from hours to five minutes with our carbon-ion cells and ‘instant charging’ represents the next stage of the development of our technology. Since we have the technology to charge a cordless drill in 15 seconds, we expect to be able to similarly improve EV charging rates, thereby solving one of the main obstacles to making EVs the new standard.”
The company said its technology is “a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium batteries”. The cells “will initially be used to power electric scooters, cordless power tools and robotic cleaners, which are expected to become available in stores and online in 2018”.
The cells can be recharged in five minutes or less instead of the current standard of several hours, Zap&Go said.