One of the main reasons why more drivers don’t transition from fuel-powered vehicles to electric power is the length of time it takes to recharge batteries.
This process can take from 45 minutes to several hours – and electric-car range remains limited.
For several years, manufacturers have been trying to boost the battery’s chemical “density” so an electric car can travel further on a charge.
Under optimal conditions, electric vehicles now have a range of up to 480km.
But recharging is still slow. However, that’s about to change thanks to Israeli startup StoreDot.
This innovative tech company is hoping to jumpstart the electric vehicle revolution with its super fast rechargeable batteries.
A StoreDot Flash Battery can be filled to capacity in just five minutes, giving electric vehicles the same 480km range.
That puts it on a par with driving a fuel powered car, says Doron Meyersdorf, the company’s cofounder and CEO.
In a recent interview Meyersdorf told news service ISRAEL21c that StoreDot’s batteries can be built in the same form as regular electric batteries.
They use the same basic material – lithium – which should lead to easier adoption.
But StoreDot replaces the graphite used by all other electric battery manufacturers with a mix of metalloids including silicon and proprietary organic compounds synthesized in its labs.
StoreDot technology attracting plenty of interest
This not only improves charging time but also safety, Meyersdorf says.
Heating graphite is “what made batteries explode in Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7,” he says. And in 2013 several of Tesla’s Model S cars caught fire.
“It’s a known problem and the reason why all such batteries are charged slowly. And it’s also why our technology is garnering such interest.”
“Interest” might be an understatement.
Last year, StoreDot scored major votes of confidence from two strategic partners.
This included a US$20 million investment from BP Ventures (the multinational oil and gas company sees an electric future and hopes ultimately to convert its 18,000 petrol stations to electric charge stations.
And EVE Energy, a Shenzhen-listed manufacturer of lithium batteries, plans to partner with StoreDot to manufacture its batteries in China.
Global strategic partnerships
The BP and Shenzhen agreements come on top of a $62 million funding round in 2017 led by German car giant Daimler AG, which like EVE involves a strategic partnership for manufacturing batteries based on StoreDot’s design. Tokyo-headquartered TDK Corporation joined that round and also announced that it was setting up a strategic partnership “to commercialise StoreDot’s battery technology as early as 2019.”
StoreDot has raised $130 million so far. The company has a staff of 105, all in Israel. The company’s name comes from the tiny bio-organic peptide molecules known as “nanodots” that allow for rapid absorption and storage of power.
Meyersdorf says the company will need more than US$400 million to develop its own battery manufacturing plant – to be called One Giga – in the United States with manufacturing expected to begin no later than 2022.
Won’t StoreDot’s One Giga compete with Tesla’s Gigafactory battery factory plans? Yes, and that’s a good thing: If demand continues to grow and new plants aren’t opened, the world will soon run out of lithium-based electric batteries, Meyersdorf predicts.
“Each electric car has the equivalent of 5,000 to 7,000 smartphone batteries in it,” he tells ISRAEL21c. “If you only look at the two million cars produced in 2018, that’s some 10 billion phone batteries.” (The total number of electric cars on the road in 2018 was 3 million, according to the International Energy Agency.)
“We need to build 100 or so giga-factories in the next several years. We don’t want to be in a situation where we have great technology but don’t have the partners or the capacity to meet the demand.”
Charge your mobile phone in less than a minute
While StoreDot’s ultimate aim is to disrupt the EV battery market, it’s starting with mobile devices and power banks, which Meyersdorf hopes to see coming to market as early as the end of this year. A StoreDot-powered mobile phone battery could charge up for the day in 30-60 seconds.
What StoreDot learns from the engineering and supply-chain challenges for these smaller “Gen 1” devices, Meyersdorf says, will make the company that much smarter as it moves toward bigger “Gen 2” batteries for electric cars.
StoreDot burst onto the tech scene in 2012 with a strong focus on both mobile phones and electric vehicles, only to go quiet for several years.
“It was a shift in our strategy,” Meyersdorf explains. Fast charging of phones, drones and toys, he realised, was “a nice feature, but for EVs, it’s a market maker. So in 2016, we pivoted.”
More environmentally friendly
When they do arrive, Meyersdorf claims that StoreDot’s Flash Batteries will not only be faster to charge, they’ll be better for the planet – and for people, too.
“We use only half the amount of cobalt of existing electric batteries,” Meyersdorf tells ISRAEL21c. That’s important, given that 60 percent of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, much of it through child labor.
StoreDot’s process for mixing its proprietary materials is also less toxic than other battery manufacturing, Meyersdorf adds.
That said, this is “not a fully green battery,” he concedes. “It still uses lithium and in terms of recycling and disposal, the issues are the same.”
StoreDot’s Flash Batteries have one other big plus: they don’t degrade as you charge them over and over.
Expect to hear a lot more about StoreDot and its ground-breaking battery technology in the coming months.
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