Rapid-charge battery technology will soon become a behemoth market. British firm Zap&Go made a major breakthrough yesterday with the demonstration that its ‘Instant Charging’ carbon-ion cells can charge an electronic device–in this case a power drill–in just seconds.
The demonstration, held at Zap&Go’s Oxford laboratory, proves that the company can compete in the electric vehicle (EV) battery market. Recent research by Forbes suggested the sector could soon be worth $240 billion, as the world shifts from traditional combustion engines to greener, more efficient solutions.
Most battery-powered vehicles take hours to charge to 100%–usually overnight–says Zap&Go CEO Stephen Voller. “Many offer a ‘fast charge’ or ‘Get you home charge’ of 15-20 minutes, which usually charges the battery pack to 30% or so. Tesla quote an 80% charge from one of their Super Chargers in 40 minutes.
“Our goal is five minutes to a 100% charge, which is about the same time it takes to fill a tank with gasoline or diesel today,” he adds.
Over a million electric vehicles will be sold this year. Some automakers are committing to making a quarter or more of their output battery-powered within the next decade. Governments, too, have been vocal in recent support for electric vehicles. France has announced it will ban sales of petrol and diesel cars by 2040. A host of other nations, including China, India and Germany, have launched major incentives for the proliferation of electric and hybrid fuel vehicles.
Zap&Go’s solution, which it has developed since the company’s spin-out of Oxford University in 2013, involves carbon-ion cells being built into both a power pack and cordless device, so that transfer of power is direct.
Should the technology be applied to the EV market, Zap&Go can resist a number of Chinese companies seeking to control the potentially massive market: China’s market share is set to reach 70% by 2020.
“Charging an EV can take hours,” says Voller. “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.”