New battery tech may lead to inexpensive, safer electric cars

Power Japan Plus announced its dual carbon battery technology, which promises longer-lasting and less expensive batteries for electric cars.

Wayne Cunningham Managing Editor / Roadshow
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
2 min read

Dual Carbon Battery
Power Japan Plus' new battery technology uses carbon, rather than expensive metals, for anode and cathode. Power Japan Plus

A large portion of the high cost of electric cars comes from their batteries, and the biggest problem for electric car owners is the time it takes to recharge those batteries. A new battery technology from Power Japan Plus promises to alleviate both of those issues, and add improved thermal safety into the bargain.

Power Japan Plus announced what it calls the Ryden, or Dual Carbon, battery, with carbon anode and cathode that allows for charging at 20 times the rate of current lithium ion batteries. Further, Power Japan Plus claims the new batteries experience no thermal change while discharging, so electric cars using the new technology would not need a battery cooling system to prevent thermal overrun.

One of the cost factors for current lithium ion batteries are the metals, cobalt, nickel, and manganese, that go into the cathode. Power Japan Plus has found a way to use cathodes and anodes in lithium-ion batteries constructed of carbon, a much more common and less expensive material. In addition, the company developed what it calls Carbon Complex, an organic carbon derived from cotton suitable for its Dual Carbon battery.

The Ryden battery offers the same energy density of current lithium-ion batteries, so would not allow extended vehicle range based on that factor. However, the ability to charge faster might lead to shorter stops at recharging stations. For example, the Nissan Leaf can be charged from empty to full in four hours. The Ryden battery would cut that time down to 12 minutes.

Dual Carbon Battery
Power Japan Plus' Ryden battery can be designed as a standard 18650 cell. Power Japan Plus

Power Japan Plus claims its new battery technology can also discharge completely without damage to the battery, potentially letting vehicle makers get more use from the electricity in the batteries. With current electric cars, the power electronics do not allow full charging or complete discharge of the battery in order to preserve the battery life.

The lack of thermal change while discharging could eliminate some of the complexity of electric cars, and increase safety. Modern electric cars use cooling systems to prevent heat overruns in battery cells. Likewise, electric car accidents would be less likely to cause a fire due to damage in the battery pack.

Power Japan Plus has developed its new battery technology to fit a standard 18650 cell, the type commonly used in laptops, and what Tesla uses in the battery packs of its Model S . However, the company announced it would only begin manufacturing its Dual Carbon cells for "specialty energy storage markets such as medical devices and satellites." It will license the technology to other companies that have the manufacturing capability to meet demand for the electric vehicle market.