Charging in 15 seconds: a company from Estonia has solved a central problem with electric cars - but the costs are high.
Despite the environmental bonus, many Germans continue to opt against e-cars because of the frighteningly long battery charging times.
Skeleton Technologies, a startup from Estonia, wants to change that and, together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology, has developed a graphene battery that can be charged in 15 seconds.
It's been a good year for e-car manufacturers in Germany. Their cars are also selling well thanks to increased government subsidies. So good, in fact, that buyers sometimes have to expect years of waiting - the manufacturers simply can't keep up with production .
Nevertheless, e-cars still only make up a minority of newly registered vehicles in the Federal Republic, and a large majority of Germans still opt for combustion engines. The charging times of the batteries are a major problem for electric cars. They are simply too long for many drivers. Who wants to stand at a charging station for hours on their way on vacation?
Taavi Madiberk wants to change that. His Estonian company Skeleton Technologies has specialized in energy storage systems based on ultracapacitors, which are supposed to make batteries more efficient, lighter and faster. Now, together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Skeleton has developed a graphene battery that is not only supposed to be smaller and lighter, but can also be charged in 15 seconds.
The battery will initially be used in plug-in hybrids
But there is a catch: the production costs are so high that the battery will probably not be able to replace conventional lithium-ion batteries for a long time. Skeleton itself therefore sees its invention as a "complementary technology".
Founder Madiberk is nevertheless convinced that the graphene battery developed by his company "will completely revolutionize the existing EV charging solutions", as he says in an interview with Business Insider. He points out that electric car manufacturer Tesla recently bought Maxwell Technologies, a company that also focuses on the development of ultracapacitors.
Madibeerk believes that the technology will initially be used primarily in plug-in hybrids and not in all-electric vehicles like those built by Tesla. In plug-in hybrids, graphene batteries could help to significantly reduce fuel consumption. In pure e-cars, the battery should work together with the lithium-ion batteries to save space and give the cars more power.
Batteries could solve other problems in electric cars
Another problem that electric car manufacturers are currently struggling with is the size of the batteries (and their cooling systems), which they bring with them for long ranges. Madiberk says his graphene batteries could solve this problem. This ensures “significantly lower costs and a longer service life,” says the 30-year-old founder.
Essentially, the interaction of the new ultracapacitors and the conventional lithium-ion batteries works as follows: "[Our battery] acts as a buffer for the peak power loads of conventional batteries, which are currently under particular strain when charging and discharging". This relief ensures that the batteries will have a longer service life in the future.
The fast charging of the additional technology provides commuters with the necessary range within seconds. No wonder that the automotive industry took notice of the Estonian company when it made such promises.
Madiberk evades the question of partnerships with established car manufacturers. The founder reveals only this much: Together with a leading automobile manufacturer, his company has just signed a letter of intent worth one billion euros “to bring the technology to market”. The company would have additional discussions with other automakers. But not only the automotive industry is interesting for Skeleton Technologies.
“In a way, the automotive industry is the most visible part of our business, but electrification and the switch to renewable energies are taking place in all economic sectors.” His new technology is also suitable for the areas of grid stabilization and industrial applications.
However, the technology will not get into your pocket for the time being, because the company has not yet worked on suitable solutions for smartphones. However, Madiberk is planning to get its batteries on the road as early as 2023 - using plug-in hybrids.