By Staff Reports
(DGIwire) – Most of today’s electric bicycles are powered by lithium-ion batteries. But that technology has its drawbacks. As reported in Electric Bike Action magazine, when some bikes were switched from lead-acid to Li-ion in the early 2000s, the batteries could catch fire, and a few people burned their garages to the ground when charging their bikes. A lithium fire can’t be put out, the magazine adds; it can’t be choked out by depriving it of oxygen—it must be left to burn.
And fire isn’t the only concern with Li-ion batteries. As the magazine notes, developers are also getting close to the maximum capacity of energy that can be put into Li-ion cells (the energy density) as well as how fast they can be charged, as well as their life expectancy (the number of charge cycles before they degrade to the point of uselessness). Imagine an e-bike battery that will only provide power for five miles when it used to give full power for 15 to 20 miles. But new technologies may supersede Li-ion in the near future.
“Riding e-bikes could be a very different experience in the days to come,” says Stephen Voller, CEO of ZapGo Ltd, the developer of Carbon-Ion™ (C-Ion®) cells, a fast-charging and safe alternative to lithium-ion batteries. “No more fear of fires or other disadvantages that have traditionally come from Li-ion.”
Electric Bike Action reports that ZapGo is bringing an electric kids’ scooter to market that can be recharged in less than five minutes and run for at least 15 minutes. This would be among the company’s first consumer products, with an e-bike battery system planned as well.
ZapGo’s C-Ion technology is being developed as the first cell of its kind that combines the characteristics of a supercapacitor and—within a few years—is anticipated to match the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, while also being safe and recyclable. Unlike lithium-ion, which works by an electrochemical reaction, ZapGo involves storing electrons with no electrochemical reaction. This means there is nothing to get used up, so ZapGo cells can last through many more charge and discharge cycles than lithium-ion, while staying safe and not at risk for a fire.
In addition to electric scooters and e-bikes, ZapGo’s platform technology is planned to be incorporated initially into products such as cordless power tools and robotic cleaners where the recharge time will be reduced from hours to sub-five minutes.
“When anyone wants to take a relaxing ride on an e-bike, they shouldn’t have to spend an excessive amount of time recharging or worrying about the safety of the battery, and C-Ion technology could be a big benefit in this regard,” Voller adds.