LTO and AI add up to quick charging

3rd October 2022
Sam Holland

ZapBatt and Toshiba have joined forces to add AI to SCiB battery management for safe, long lasting batteries that offer a viable alternative to Li-ion, discovers Caroline Hayes.

This article originally appeared in the September '22 magazine issue of Electronic Specifier Design – see ES's Magazine Archives for more featured publications.

Lithium titanium oxide (LTO) battery technology uses nanostructured materials to improve battery performance and lifetime. In 2005, Altairnano replaced the carbon in conventional lithium ion (Li-ion) batteries with a nano-structured lithium titanate material which had energy storage characteristics that meant an LTO battery can operate in a wide temperature range, charge quickly and store energy for longer to reduce waste.

Toshiba subsequently developed a lithium titanate battery technology, the Super Charge Ion Battery (SCiB). It is this battery technology that ZapBatt, a southern California battery provider is using with its AI and hardware to provide a battery that can provide a full charge in 20 minutes or less and operate through up to 20,000 charging cycles, for longer battery life. (Conventional Li-ion batteries can be recharged approximately 1,000 times.)

Adding AI ZapBatt’s Battery AI tracks, analyses and optimises 26 specification points which can be adjusted to improve battery performance. The company claims that its software and hardware extend the cycle life of battery systems up to 15,000+ cycles, or more than 25 years. The company points out that the typical American spends around 500 hours a year (more than 20 days) charging power tools, e-bikes, mobility products such as scooters, golf carts, fitness, camping and travel equipment.

If charge times can be reduced here, it would be liberating but if the full charge for an electric vehicle can be reduced, it would free up motorists who are already concerned about where to park to charge a vehicle in busy city centres as well as finding a charge point in remote areas. SCiB has been used in vehicles (including models by Nissan, Mitsubishi in Asia) and the collaboration with ZapBatt could bring the battery technology’s efficiency to more motorists in the southern Californian company’s battery as a service model.

Have a long, safe life

The LTO cells are designed for fast charging and high power environments. They have virtually no risk of self thermal runaway and minimal decrease in function even after thousands of charges and uses, says ZapBatt. The cells provide up to a 100% usable charge without shortening cycle life. They are also able to perform in conditions as low as −30°C, whereas Li-ion is limited to 0°C. Importantly for battery disposal, but also for transit, LTO batteries do not have carbon in the anode or oxides such as nickel, manganese, aluminium or cobalt, found in Li-ion batteries, to reduce the risk of chemical fire when damaged or over-used. ZapBatt says the battery chemistry is “effectively immune to thermal runaway and battery fires”.

ZapBatt has developed the Bi-directional Adaptive Terminal Voltage (BATV) battery technology to control the voltage input/ output via software. The batteries can be re-configured for other applications to directly replace Li-ion batteries. Battery reconfiguration According to Amiad Zionpur, chief operating officer of ZapBatt, BATV “allows the battery to reconfigure itself based on the customer’s needs, essentially making it a universal adapter that has the potential to change the battery landscape completely.

Because of this unique ability, the e bike battery can be used in many different applications, from micro-mobility to consumer products,” he said. AI is used to enhance the battery’s energy density in e-bikes and electric vehicles. It analyses how energy is being used, for example in regenerative braking (the transfer of kinetic energy of a moving object in to stored energy to slow down a vehicle and to increase fuel efficiency). Hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) collect a large amount of energy through braking and deceleration. SCiB can be charged and discharged at high current which extends the life of the hybrid vehicle or energy facility.

It also increases fuel and electricity efficiency, reducing CO2 and NOX emissions, says Toshiba. It is suitable for 12 to 48V HEV systems which require high current charge and discharge performance through the life of the vehicle. ZapBatt is conducting several micro-mobility pilot demonstrations in North America and the batteries are expected to be commercially available in early 2023.

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