MAHLE Powertrain and Allotrope Energy believe the latest lithium-carbon (Li-C) technology will allow EVs to compete directly with internal combustion-powered cars. This has been made possible by merging the positive capabilities of super capacitors and traditional lithium-ion batteries. The Li-C cells are also free from rare-earth metals, making them fully recyclable.
This development features a high-rate battery-type anode and a high-capacity electric double layer capacitor (EDLC)-style cathode, which is separated by an organic electrolyte. The battery cell is as a result able to withstand the thermal degradation effects suffered by traditional lithium-based batteries. This allows a lifetime of over 100,000 cycles, beating any conventional battery.
Speaking at the Cenex Low Carbon Vehicle 2021 event, MAHLE Powertrain’s Head of Research Dr Mike Bassett stated that this was important for the marketability of electric vehicles: “Range anxiety is often quoted as the main barrier to electric vehicle adoption,” yet with the new battery “much of that worry goes away”.
When developing this new technology, Dr Bassett’s main concern was the impact of on-demand deliveries, which are leading to “a rapid increase in the use of petrol powered mopeds”, as the electric alternative is currently too expensive to be sustainable.
Yet by working with Allotrope Energy, MAHLE trusts that this new small-capacity Li-C battery would allow moped drivers to recharge within 90 seconds – a massive improvement on the usual 30 plus minutes.
However, there were concerns for MAHLE Powertrain’s Dr Bassett as there’s currently “no suitable charging system on the market that can deliver these charge rates from a domestic supply”. Yet the solution was found by Bassett’s team, as the battery is installed with its own built-in capacitor-based energy store to provide ultra-fast charging up to 20kW. This allows moped distributors to go electric without compromising on their delivery rates.
MAHLE Powertrain achieved this by augmenting the power from a normal 7 kW single phase connection. This leads to the reduction of cost and complexity, while removing the need for expensive power grid connection improvements.