Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


ZapGoCharger Report Summary

Project ID: 766670

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ZapGoCharger (Rapid charging of cordless appliances using graphene-based supercapacitors)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2018-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

There is a rapid migration from corded to cordless equipment across a diverse range of consumer and industrial products. The incumbent battery technology used in these devices is Lithium-ion (Li-ion) which, whilst it provides sustained power (energy density), has limited lifetime and carries significant safety and environmental risks throughout the product lifecycle.

ZapGo is developing a radical solution for these cordless products - a new type of energy storage device that uses safe and recyclable materials which can sustain hundreds of thousands charge/discharge cycles. This technology, called Carbon-Ion (C-Ion), incorporates highly conductive nano-carbons and novel ionic electrolytes in a pouch cell format that can then be built into power pack modules for use with a wide range of electronic equipment.

The overall objective of this project is to develop fully-tested, commercially viable C-Ion power packs for cordless tools and cordless household appliances. Initially, the C-Ion cells will be optimised for the requirements of this target market and then fully-interchangeable C-Ion power packs for existing cordless products will be developed. These demonstrator products will be used in customer trials to evaluate their performance and gather market feedback. To prepare for the commercial roll out, ZapGo will establish the partnerships necessary throughout the supply chain, put in place the sales and marketing infrastructure and aim to have pre-contract agreements signed with key customers.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

Progressing from materials development, through prototype power pack testing and finally the first functional products – period 1 of the project has been a busy and successful year.

Building on our early generation C-Ion cells, we optimized the formula and construction of the cells for power tools and cleaning equipment. The primary aim was to double the energy density of the C-Ion cells, demonstrating significant improvement beyond state-of-the-art. This target has been met, ensuring good performance of the resulting power packs. This iterative cell development process will continue throughout the project as we strive to improve the performance further still.

The design and manufacture the prototype power packs was completed in August 2017, demonstrating the capabilities of these modules. The bench-top testing provided the data needed to assess the designs; highlighting the strengths and weaknesses. Incorporating the recommended changes into the next project stage, the power packs were integrated into existing products and subjected to a range of user-focused tests.

Alongside this practical product development, we have been putting in place a world-class supply chain, strong IP protection and diverse routes to market. We have negotiated agreements with selected suppliers for the critical raw materials and the manufacture of our C-Ion cells in production quantities. To increase industry awareness of the products that will be available as a direct result of this project, we have presented at a range of events, shared our progress through social media and produced technical documentation targeted at both engineers and commercial decision makers.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The improvements in cell energy density that we have achieved through this project has taken the technology beyond the current state of the art commercially available for super capacitors. Our C-Ion cells can therefore be effectively utilised for energy storage and delivery in a wider range of industries than was previously possible. The power tool and cleaning markets have niche sectors within them, which can quickly exploit the benefits of the fast-charging, high cycle life offered by C-Ion. A prime example is the use of power tools on assembly lines. In this scenario the tools experience short bursts of activity, with periods of idle time in between each cycle – a C-Ion pack can deliver the energy required for each assembly activity and then recharge again in the ‘down-time’ in each task period. The extended tool life, significantly reduced maintenance costs and improved health benefits from a lighter tool show the range of positive impacts that will be enjoyed by businesses employing this technology.

There are advantages for all stakeholders when C-Ion is used to replace traditional Li-ion batteries:
• For business users the lifetime costs for this technology will be far lower due to its minimal transportation restrictions, modest maintenance requirements and long cycle life.
• The safety of the non-flammable, non-toxic cells will protect direct users of this technology.
• Society will benefit from the low environmental impact due to the materials used and their recyclability. Additionally, there will be “second life” opportunities as the C-Ion power packs will outlast many of the products with which they were originally sold.
• For equipment manufacturers, integrating this technology into their products will offer commercial advantages, e.g. new designs, and therefore new markets, that are only possible with this technology. This may change user behaviour to reflect new fast-charging capabilities and, with the long life, enable new business models that reflect the growing trend towards lifetime ‘pay-per-use’ platforms.

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