Fast-Charge Technology Expected to Slash Down Times
In Autonomous Electric Vehicles Now Operating in the UK
UK- and North Carolina-based ZapGo (aka Zap&Go) is promoting a hybrid battery design that allows for super-fast charging via a combination of supercapacitor and conventional battery technologies.
The firm wants to provide both energy-storing battery banks for electric vehicle charging installations – allowing for minimal impacts on the grid – and battery packs for the EVs themselves.
ZapGo plans to take its Carbon-Ion brand batteries into production for power tools this year, and to retrofit autonomous EVs – aka pods – in the UK with its Carbon-Ion units in 2018.
From Four Hours to 35 Seconds
GATEway pods (the name is short for Greenwich Automated Transport Environment) operate in the city of Greenwich and at London’s sprawling Heathrow airport, where they connect Terminal 5 with a car park.
The pods currently take about four hours to charge, says Zap&Go CEO Stephen Voller. In tests of his company’s Carbon-Ion batteries, that time has been reduced to a mere 35 seconds, he says.
“Obviously it’s a dramatic improvement,” he told F&F.
The pods were developed via a collaborative effort of Westfield Sportscars/Westfield Technology, Heathrow Enterprises, and Oxbotica, a spinoff of the Department of Engineering Science at the University of Oxford.
There are 25 pods operating at Heathrow and 35 in Greenwich, says Westfield managing director Julian Turner.
ZapGo’s C-Ion packs are designed to fit under the seats and supplement the pods’ existing lead acid batteries. The C-Ion packs recharge in 35 seconds using existing 30-kilowatt charging points. Charging downtime is effectively eliminated as it takes about 40 seconds for the pod doors to open and for passengers to board the vehicles.
‘The Next Stage’ for EVs
The Carbon-Ion batteries charge the pods’ on-board lead-acids and provide boost power when the vehicle first starts or goes uphill.
ZapGo is also working on a “hybrid” system with C-Ion technology enabling the fast-charging of lithium ion batteries.
“We’re looking at a variety of power sources for these vehicles,” Westfield’s Turner says of the GATEway pods.
‘Solving One of the Main Obstacles’
ZapGo has also just reported a full charge of a power tool with C-Ion battery in just 15 seconds.
“Instant charging,” Voller said in a release, “represents the next stage of the development of our technology.
“Since we have the technology to charge a cordless drill in 15 seconds, we expect to be able similarly improve EV charging rates, thereby solving one of the main obstacles to making EVs the new standard.”
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Source: ZapGo with Fleets & Fuels follow-up