Chrysalix Energy invested several million dollars in a Dutch-based maker of ultrafast battery chargers that aim the market of electric cars and plug-in hybrids. Epyon B.V.,produced a “supercharge” technology that reduces the charge time of lithium-ion batteries 20 times below the times reached by current chargers. Rene Savelsberg, managing director and CEO of SET Venture Partners, a European affiliate to Chrysalix, said: “Clearly, the bottleneck up to now has been the speed of re-charging and that is exactly what Epyon is good at.”
Epyon produces a computer controllable, very light charger that would reduce the charging time of an electric vehicle’s battery pack from 5 hours to 15 minutes, which is acceptable for most of the users. For the beginning, current gas stations could implement electric outlets that could feed the “juice” to the electric car, giving them the freedom of travelling longer distances without the fear of running out of electricity.
AccelRate, a company from Vancouver, is also working on similar fast-charging battery systems but they have not succeeded to make any viable product to this day, as they claim their system can only reduce a five hour lithium-ion charge down to an hour, which is an incredible loss of time for electric car users.
In 2010 GM, Toyota and other car manufacturers are expected to release commercially competing plug-in vehicles, the debate over quick-charge versus battery-swapping will continue to intensify. Shai Agassi, founder and CEO of Project Better Place, sees a network of battery swap stations located throughout the country. The electric car drivers could become members of this network, paying a subscription just as they would pay for mobile phone coverage. Israel and Denmark have so far subscribed to the idea, which is not new.
There are ups and downs to this idea as well, because the battery quality has to always be controlled, and maintenance work has to be done in order to supply a smooth-going business, which could rise the overall service’s price. The problem with fast-charging batteries is that they are going to last sensibly less than if recharged in a normal way, unless there is a new technology involved that would use something else for battery composition.