A startup that spun out of Cambridge University claims a battery breakthrough that can charge an electric car in just six minutes.
It’s something we heard before, but the difference here is that they claim that they can commercialize the new battery as soon as next year.
The startup, Echion Technologies, was founded by Dr. Jean De La Verpilliere while he was studying for his PhD in nanoscience at the University of Cambridge.
De La Verpilliere claims to have created a new powder that replaces graphite inside Li-ion battery cells and improves recharge capacity in an impressive way.
He told Cambridge Independent:
The powders are the central component of a lithium battery. This is a new kind of powder that allows you to recharge in six minutes, not 45 minutes. This includes a car, so your electric car is almost as easy to charge as it is to refuel conventionally.
The startup claims to have a prototype that has been validated, and it secured investments from Newable Private Investing and Cambridge Enterprise.
De La Verpilliere said:
We’re working on methods to make powders that are scaleable and where 1,000 tonnes could be made quite easily in factories. We have a prototype now, and are moving toward commercialization early next year. The tests have to be validated beforehand.
It’s rare that startups can convince battery makers to use their chemistry in their expensive production lines, but Echion claims that its new material can easily be incorporated into existing production.
The company wrote on its website:
Echion Technologies provides a unique platform for battery material and composite manufacture at pilot scales. Our materials then simply ‘drop in’ to existing battery manufacturing infrastructure with no capital cost. This provides a low barrier to market entry and rapid customer access for our battery materials.
Echion Technologies claims to be working with OEM, and they are aiming for production to start in 2020.
Claims of battery breakthroughs are so appealing: It’s the idea that a couple of scientists are creating a new material that results in a a significant improvement in battery capacity and accelerates electric vehicle adoption.
However, we heard it many times before, and it rarely if ever actually results in a commercial product.
Echion Technologies seems to have a focus on commercialization, which is encouraging, but I would take it with a grain of salt since there’s not much information about the actual material.
It’s still important to follow potential battery breakthroughs, but I like to remind everyone that breakthroughs are not required to enable electric vehicles to be competitive with gasoline cars. Those technologies will come and push EVs forward, but in the meantime, current incremental improvements on li-ion batteries are enough to make EVs highly competitive.