Dual Carbon Batteries: Powerful, Safe, Reliable, and Cheap
Tom Lombardo posted on May 18, 2014 |

Tell an engineer that you want a battery that’s powerful, safe, reliable, and cheap, and he’ll probably respond, “Powerful, safe, reliable, cheap: pick any two.”

Today’s batteries are a compromise, with lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries often being the preferred choice for electric vehicles, portable electronics, and even battery-based grid-level storage. But they’re far from perfect. Li-ion batteries are made from rare earth materials and occasionally suffer from “thermal events” (fires). Like all rechargeable batteries, they take a while to charge and have a limited number of charging cycles. Hybrid and EV manufacturers typically warranty their batteries for about eight years or 100,000 miles, and replacements are costly.

A new company called Power Japan Plus (PJP), working with researchers from Kyushu University, has developed a dual carbon battery (patent pending) that may solve many of the problems associated with Li-ion batteries. PJP’s chief technology officer is Dr. Kaname Takeya, who developed the batteries used in the Toyota Prius and the Tesla, so he knows a thing or two about the shortcomings of Li-ion technology. In his opinion on Li-ion batteries, performance trumped other variables such as reliability, safety, and cost. He hopes that the dual carbon battery won’t be a compromise.

Cheaper to Make

The dual carbon battery gets its name from the fact that both electrodes are made of carbon, unlike Li-ion batteries whose electrodes often consist of rare earth elements such as nickel, cobalt, and manganese. Because carbon is abundant, the new batteries should be much less expensive to produce. They’re manufactured by a similar process as Li-ion batteries, so current facilities can easily retool to produce them. Like Li-ion batteries, they have a cell voltage of 4 volts, making them compatible with existing designs.

Energy Dense and Long Lasting

Power Japan Plus claims that its dual carbon battery will give EVs a range of 300 miles with the ability to fully recharge in about 20 minutes. They can discharge completely with no damage, unlike Li-ion batteries. Even better, PJP says its batteries will withstand 3000 recharge cycles, which means that the batteries should last for more than 900,000 miles!

Cool and Green

Dual carbon batteries don’t get hot while charging or discharging, so they’re not likely to catch fire and they don’t need special cooling equipment. The materials are fully recyclable, making them environmentally friendly.

Too Good to Be True?

The ideal battery is like cold fusion or the cure for cancer: it's ten years away, and has been for the past forty years. Before I declare the dual carbon battery to be the “missing link” in the renewable energy and EV industries, I’d like to see a battery of tests performed by independent labs that confirm the company’s claims. Meanwhile, check out their promotional video:

Image and Video Courtesy of Power Japan Plus

Although PJP is targeting the EV and personal electronics markets, if dual carbon batteries are as good as the company claims, I think they could also find their way into renewable energy storage systems. 

[Read More...]

Recommended For You