From discharged battery to full charge in just five minutes – an Israeli start-up has developed technology it says could eliminate “range anxiety” associated with electric cars.
StoreDot super-fast charging specialists have developed a first-generation lithium-ion battery that can rival the filling time of a standard car at the pump.
“We’re changing the whole driver experience, the ‘range anxiety’ problem … that you could get stuck on the freeway with no power,” StoreDot founder Doron said. Myersdorf.
The innovation could eliminate the hours it takes to charge an electric car, he said.
Hundreds of prototypes are currently being tested by manufacturers.
His company, based in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv, is backed by four key investors: German automaker Daimler, Britain’s British Petroleum and electronics giants Samsung and TDK.
Myersdorf, who founded the company in 2012, tested the battery on phones, drones and scooters, before taking on the electric vehicle jackpot.
– ‘Revolution’ –
But Eric Esperance, analyst at consulting firm Roland Berger, warned that while super-fast charging would be a “revolution”, there are still many steps to be taken.
“We are still a long way from the industrial automotive market,” he told AFP.
In 2019, the Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to the American John Goodenough, the British Stanley Whittingham and the Japanese Akira Yoshino for the invention of lithium-ion batteries.
“This lightweight, rechargeable and powerful battery is now used in everything from cell phones to laptops and electric vehicles,” the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences said at the award ceremony.
Myersdorf said that “charging speed was not part” of the original Nobel Prize winning design, so he worked on what was “considered impossible”: a lithium-ion battery ready to go in minutes. .
“We wanted to demonstrate that you can take a lithium-ion battery, replace some of its materials, and then recharge it in five minutes,” he said.
The engineer changed the original graphite in the negative anode of the battery with silicon.
“We are taking this amazing lithium-ion battery innovation and upgrading it to extremely fast charging capability,” he said.
The batteries are assembled in a laboratory equipped with large glass boxes, sealed to prevent oxygen from entering.
StoreDot chemists wearing glasses and white coats build 100 batteries per week, sent to companies for possible use in their products.
– “ A society without fossil fuels ” –
The team is already working on a second generation of batteries to reduce costs.
While a vehicle’s design cycle is “typically four to five years,” they seek to speed up the process.
“We are working to bring this solution to the market in parallel, by designing the manufacturing facilities that would be able to mass-produce this battery,” Myersdorf said.
The Nobel jury praised the lithium-ion battery for its ability “to store significant amounts of energy from solar and wind power, making possible a society without fossil fuels.”
While public opinion turns to the priority given to the climate change crisis, manufacturers are orienting production towards less polluting vehicles.
But the road is long.
In the field, charging stations should be adapted for new generation batteries, costing between $ 1,500 and $ 10,000 depending on capacity.
Electric cars are also still expensive, and in 2019 they only accounted for 2.6% of global sales, according to the International Energy Agency.
For Myersdorf, the sooner the world switches to electric vehicles, the better, stressing “the huge impact on the planet”.
But recycling lithium-ion batteries remains an issue, with Esperance noting that each has a lifespan of between 3,000 and 3,500 charges.
“We need to put in place a recycling system, as is the case with lead-acid batteries,” he said. “Today, this network is being set up.
Lithium mining and recycling pose ecological, political and economic challenges for the technology to overcome.
alv / gl / pjm / hc