A new electric car battery could usher in another revolution in electric cars, reducing the charging time to five minutes — and it’s ready to hit the shelves.
New electric cars already have a satisfying autonomy of a few hundred miles, comparable to what non-electric cars can offer (and in some cases, even higher). But the charging time was still a problem. Sure, you can drive a lot in your electric car, but no one wants to waste half an hour waiting for the car to be charged, especially when gasoline cars are filled so easily. Soon, that may no longer be an issue .
The new fast-charging batteries were developed by Israeli company StoreDot and manufactured by Eve Energy in China on standard production lines. According to the producer, the new batteries shorten the amount of time required to charge the battery to as little as 5 minutes for 300 miles (480 km) of driving distance. The FlashBattery, as they are called, can accommodate 60 miles (96 km) of travel for a 1-minute charge.
According to StoreDot, the battery also contains materials that are far less flammable and more stable than traditional Li-ion batteries.
The producer also claims the batteries are more eco-friendly as they use an aquatic-based manufacturing process — the battery replaces graphite with semiconductor nanoparticles based on germanium, which is soluble and easier to handle. But StoreDot plans to use silicon, which is much cheaper (comparable to Li-ion batteries) and stable. To make things even more exciting, this technology will allow producers to downsize car batteries.
Batteries are the new oil
StoreDot has already demonstrated the battery technology in phones, drones and scooters, and it’s now showcasing 100 batteries for cars.
This isn’t an early prototype or something in development — it’s ready to hit the shelves.
“A five-minute charging lithium-ion battery was considered to be impossible,” said Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot, for The Guardian. “But we are not releasing a lab prototype, we are releasing engineering samples from a mass production line. This demonstrates it is feasible and it’s commercially ready.”
But there’s a small catch: you need much more powerful chargers. The bottleneck, says Myersdorf, is no longer batteries, but the charging system. Luckily, that’s not as difficult a problem to solve as the batteries themselves, and it’s already being addressed.
“The bottleneck to extra-fast charging is no longer the battery,” he said. It’s the charging stations and grids that supply them need to be upgraded, and Storedot is already working with the likes of Daimler, BP, Samsung and TDK, which have all invested in the company. “BP has 18,200 forecourts and they understand that, 10 years from now, all these stations will be obsolete, if they don’t repurpose them for charging – batteries are the new oil.”
StoreDot isn’t nearly the only company researching this, but if what the company says it’s true, StoreDot is in the lead of this race. Earlier this week, Tesla boss Elon Musk tweeted:
“Battery cell production is the fundamental rate-limiter slowing down a sustainable energy future. Very important problem.”
Electric cars are nearing a tipping point, not only in regards to autonomy but also in regards to battery price. A December 2020 report found that the threshold for price parity with gasoline engines, according to BNEF, is around $100/kWh, a figure that wasn’t expected to be reached until 2023. Meanwhile, plunging battery costs have driven a 43% global increase in electric car sales in 2020.
Simply put, electric cars are very close to becoming the cheapest type of car — they are already cheaper to run. As range anxiety and the slow charging time are improved, the only barrier to mass adoption of electric cars remains the high purchase price. Many countries, especially in Europe and Asia, are addressing this through government subsidies and tax breaks, but the goal is to make electric cars cheaper without these subsidies.
Transportation is one of the main contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, and transitioning to a green transportation infrastructure will be a main objective in addressing this man-made climate crisis.