Mahle Claiming ‘Breakthrough’ on BEV Pack Tech

Auto supply giant, Mahle Powertrain, claims its latest joint venture will lead to a breakthrough in battery powertrains that could allow them to charge as quickly as filling a fuel tank.

The company has teamed up with Allotrope Energy with both claiming to have developed Li-C cells technology which offers ultra-fast recharging coupled with good power density. By combining the benefits of super capacitors and traditional lithium-ion batteries, their lithium-carbon technology claims the capability to offer a full charge for a BEV in a similar time to refueling an internal combustion-powered vehicle. In addition, Li-C cells are free from rare-earth metals, are fully recyclable, and are not susceptible to the runaway events.

The development began with the pairing considered how an electric moped could be used as an urban delivery vehicle powered by an inexpensive small capacity lithium-carbon battery that could be recharged between stops in as little as 90 seconds. Allotrope Energy’s lithium-carbon technology combines super capacitors and traditional lithium-ion batteries. The system features a high-rate battery-type anode and a high-capacity electric double layer capacitor (EDLC)-style cathode, separated by an organic electrolyte.

The batteries are claimed to suffer none of the thermal degradation effects experienced by traditional lithium-based batteries. Its stability, even at high temperatures, permits high current delivery and fast recharging, all without the need for complex external cooling or elaborate battery management systems. Additionally, its capacitor-style cathode enables a lifetime of more than 100,000 cycles, far greater than conventional batteries, while the elimination of rare-earth metals and the design’s complete recyclability make it better for the environment both during production and long after it.

As part of the project, Mahle Powertrain investigated the scenario of a city-based e-moped fast-food delivery service with a 15-mile target range. It claims a 500 Wh conventional lithium-ion battery would require a recharge mid-shift that, even with a fast-charger, would take more than 30 minutes. In addition, regular fast charging reduces battery life to the point it would likely need replacement every year or two. A lithium-carbon pack, however, could be recharged at 20 kW in just 90 seconds, meaning a full charge could be achieved in the time taken for the next delivery to be collected.

Dr Mike Bassett, Mahle Powertrain’s head of research, said: “Range anxiety is often quoted as the main barrier to electric vehicle adoption but if the battery could be recharged in the same time it takes to refuel a conventional IC engine vehicle, much of that worry goes away.

“With the rise of the on-demand economy, there’s been a rapid increase in the use of gasoline-powered mopeds for urban deliveries such as take-away meals, and this has contributed to air quality issues in our cities. Decarbonizing these deliveries has so far proved difficult without maintaining a stock of expensive interchangeable batteries or switching to a larger, heavier electric vehicle with increased energy consumption.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_


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