Charged in 90 seconds: Brand new battery type could be electric vehicle breakthrough

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Powertain experts Mahle, together with Allotrope Energy, have created a new form of battery technology that promises to end concerns about charging times once and for all.

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The new batteries combine traditional lithium-ion cells with super capacitors, creating what Mahle have dubbed ‘lithium-carbon’ hybrids, which can be fully charged in just minutes.

“Range anxiety is often quoted as the main barrier to electric vehicle adoption but if the battery could be recharged in the same time it takes to refuel an internal combustion engine vehicle, much of that worry goes away,” says Dr Mike Bassett, Mahle Powertrain’s Head of Research.

“With the rise of the on-demand economy, there’s been a rapid increase in the use of petrol-powered mopeds for urban deliveries such as take-away meals, and this has contributed to air quality issues in our cities.

“Decarbonising these deliveries has so far proved difficult without maintaining a stock of expensive interchangeable batteries or switching to a larger, heavier electric vehicle with increased energy consumption.”

Lithium-carbon battery

Working with Allotrope Energy, Mahle believe they have solved this problem with their new battery type as the size of battery required by an electric delivery scooter could be recharged in as little as 90 seconds. How have they done it?

Allotrope Energy’s lithium-carbon technology combines the benefits of super capacitors and traditional lithium-ion batteries to deliver a cell that can be recharged quickly and yet retains good energy density.

The technology features a high-rate battery-type anode and a high-capacity electric double layer capacitor (EDLC)-style cathode, separated by an organic electrolyte.

Mahle say the benefit of this construction is that the battery remains stable at high temperatures, meaning it can take a high current delivery without external cooling or elaborate battery management. Whereas current batteries charge at 7kW in a single phase connection, the new battery can charge at up to 20kW.

Mahle electric test fleet

That means a small moped designed for inner city deliveries could be built with a small battery (around 500Wh) and short range (say under 10 miles) but could be charged in under two minutes, compared to 30 minutes currently. What’s more, The battery’s capacitor-style cathodes enable a lifetime of over 100,000 cycles, far greater than conventional batteries.

“With ultra-fast charging, the size of the battery can be optimised to suit the scenarios the vehicle will be used in, and that leads not only to weight savings but also cost reductions that further lower the barriers to decarbonisation,” adds Bassett.

The new tech would also remove some of the environmental issues posed by conventional batteries. The new battery eliminates use of rare-earth metals and is recycleable, making it better for the environment both during production and long after it’s worn out.