MAHLE Powertrain and Allotrope Energy developed revolutionary lithium-carbon battery; new tech could be scaled up for electric motorcycles in the future
October 8, 2021
By Keaton Maisano
MAHLE Powertrain and Allotrope Energy have developed a battery technology that aims to rival the refuel time of internal combustion-powered vehicles while benefiting the environment.
Combining the benefits of super capacitors and traditional lithium-ion batteries, the new lithium-carbon technology could be recharged in as little as 90 seconds at 20 kW. The lithium-carbon cells are also free from rare-earth metals, fully recyclable and not susceptible to runaway events.
“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,” Dr. Mike Bassett, MAHLE Powertrain’s Head of Research, said in a press release.
Focusing on providing a capable, environmentally friendly alternative to petrol-powered mopeds that deliver food in urban areas, the technology has been developed with the vision of an electric moped — which could quickly charge between stops — in mind.
The design of the battery claims to not suffer from thermal degradation that traditional lithium-based batteries experience, thus opening the door for high current delivery and fast recharging at high temperatures.
A lifetime of over 100,000 cycles — better than a conventional battery — is made possible by the capacitor-style cathode.
The lithium-carbon technology holds another advantage over its lithium-ion counterpart in terms of recharge time. Although a 500 Wh conventional lithium-ion battery would take over a half hour to charge, a lithium-carbon battery could accomplish the feat in 90 seconds at 20 kW.
“The real challenge came in designing the electrical architecture capable of absorbing such high rates of charge,” Bassett said. “Additionally, with no suitable charging systems on the market that can deliver these charge rates from a domestic supply, we created our own bespoke design.”
Although the technology is currently being developed for lightweight scooters, it’s likely the tech could be scaled up in the future, potentially improving the charge times of electric motorcycles like Harley-Davidson’s LiveWire (now known as the LiveWire ONE).
Range anxiety and long charge times have been some of the detractors of electric motorcycles for some riders. Currently, the LiveWire takes 40 minutes to reach 80 percent charge via a Level 3 DC Fast Charge station and a full hour to reach 100 percent charge. MAHLE Powertrain’s and Allotrope Energy’s revolutionary lithium-carbon battery could be the next step in solving those problems, making electric motorcycles more attractive to motorcyclists.
The full press release can be read here.