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MAHLE Powertrain and Allotrope Energy unveil lithium-carbon battery technology with ultra-fast recharging

MAHLE Powertrain and Allotrope Energy have unveiled a new battery technology which offers ultra-fast recharging coupled with good power density. By combining the benefits of supercapacitors and traditional lithium-ion batteries, the new lithium-carbon technology enables a full charge to be delivered in a similar time to refuelling an internal combustion-powered vehicle.


Lithium-carbon battery

In addition, Li-C cells are free from rare-earth metals, are fully recyclable, and are not susceptible to the 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.

With the rise of the on-demand economy, there’s been a rapid increase in the use of petrol-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.

—Dr Mike Bassett, MAHLE Powertrain’s Head of Research

In a collaborative project with Allotrope Energy, MAHLE Powertrain has 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 the benefits of super capacitors and traditional lithium-ion batteries to deliver a cell that can be recharged quickly and yet retains good energy density. The technology features a high-rate battery-type anode and a high-capacity electric double layer capacitor (EDLC)-style cathode, separated by an organic electrolyte.

The result is a battery cell with that suffers 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 25 km target range. 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.

With ultra-fast charging, the size of the battery can be optimized to suit the scenarios the vehicle will be used in, and that leads not only to weight savings but also cost reductions that further lower the barriers to decarbonization.

The real challenge came in designing the electrical architecture capable of absorbing such high rates of charge. 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.

—Mike Bassett

The solution Bassett’s team came up with uses its own built-in capacitor-based energy store to deliver ultra-fast charging up to 20 kW by augmenting the power from a typical 7 kW single phase connection, thereby reducing cost and complexity while eliminating the need for expensive power grid connection upgrades.



The two things they are not telling us are energy density and cost.

Since there is no mention of use in cars, I am guessing low energy density.

Since there is no mention of stationary storage, I am guessing high cost.

I would love to be wrong on both, and in any case getting rid of the pollution from two strokes is a fine advance, and if this can help, great!


Lithium carbon:
60Wh/kg and 80Wh/l yet over 15kW/kg.

No mention of costs.

No good for cars.
Maybe stationary storage?


No such thing as a free lunch.
Buses maybe where you can charge at the stops ?
I would think that stationary storage would want better energy density and doesn't need the speed.
(The number of cycles is nice, though).

Maybe for buffering power flows on the Tube and other electric railways.
(Doesn't sound like a big market).


If you're a plant and the sun is shining, lunch is free.


Ultra-fast charging is ideal for hybrid vehicles.  60 Wh/kg means 1 kWh in under 17 kg of battery.  17 kg of battery @ 15 kW/kg is over 250 kW of power.  Absolutely perfect.


I don't see the issue with 60Wh/kg for stationary storage, at least most places.
Cycle life and cost are the drivers, not weight.

Since they don't mention stationary storage though, I am assuming that at least at the moment this is pretty pricey! :-(

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