Allotrope Energy in the UK claims to have developed a lithium-carbon battery for mopeds and scooters that can be recharged in as little as 90 seconds. The new battery is supplied to manufacturers by Mahle Powertrain, a leading global supplier to the automotive and mobility market.
The fast-charging capability is a result of the high specific power of the lithium-carbon battery, which can exceed 15 kilowatts per kilogram, according to Allotrope. 10 kW per kilogram is the standard for other lithium-ion batteries.
Allotrope CTO Pete Wilson says Canary Islands Media the key to lithium-carbon technology is the development of non-porous carbon which has traditionally been classified as a capacitor material. He says that in 2014, a German automotive company came to the Allotrope team, which was then focusing on capacitors, in search of a new battery technology.
“We realized the battery they were asking for wasn’t an ultracapacitor and it wasn’t a lithium-ion battery, but some weird combination of the two,” Wilson explains. “When we did the basic math on why this battery hadn’t made it to market, it became clear that the reason was this problem with the carbon. We were a carbon company. As a result, we assembled all the parts.” Several years ago, Tesla invested in supercapacitor technology when it purchased Maxwell.
Lithium-carbon is suitable for some applications, but not others
Other uses of lithium-carbon technology
There are several potential applications for lithium-carbon batteries other than in mopeds and scooters, Wilson says. Allotrope is also in talks with charging station operators to create battery-powered pads for electric vehicle charging systems as well as dockside charging systems for ships. They could also be used to shorten the charging time of last-mile delivery vehicles and autonomous guided vehicles such as automated forklifts, Wilson says.
Beyond its high specific power, another advantage of lithium-carbon chemistry is that it does not use cobalt or nickel, two elements that pose supply chain challenges for conventional lithium-ion battery manufacturers. Cobalt in particular has limited availability. “You couldn’t electrify every car in this world with cobalt – we just don’t have enough of it,” Wilson says.
There’s a lot of fuss today about how the electric vehicle revolution will stall due to a lack of batteries. Allotrope Energy doesn’t have the solution for every use case, but if its lithium-carbon technology were used where it is effective, some of these supply pinch points could be avoided.
Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. Continuing to burn fossil fuels to move people from here to there and back again is simply not sustainable. It seems likely that lithium-carbon battery technology could be an important tool in advancing the mass adoption of electric vehicle technology.
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