Samsung, others wooed by 5-minute electric car recharge dream

StoreDot lines up an additional $18 million from top investors to develop its charging technology

Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot (BBC screenshot)
Doron Myersdorf, CEO of StoreDot (BBC screenshot)

A promise by Israeli nanotech firm StoreDot that within a year it will be able to recharge an electric vehicle in five minutes has gained some true believers.

Samsung Ventures and Norma Investments Limited (the investment firm that represents business tycoon Roman Abramovich), along with other investors, are providing StoreDot with $18 million for the development of its electric vehicle (EV) charging technology.

Come next May, StoreDot CEO Doron Myersdorf promised at the recent Microsoft ThinkNext event in Tel Aviv, “we will present a technology to recharge an electric car in five minutes. Using an array of 7,000 cells, we’ll take a car that has a zero charge and recharge its batteries to 100% capacity. Then, while next year’s ThinkNext is going on, we’ll send it on a trip to Beersheba and have it come back at the end of the event here to Tel Aviv,” Myersdorf said in May of this year, to the cheers of an enthusiastic crowd.

The new round of funding, the company said, is centered on the development and commercialization of its new EV business unit.

StoreDot became famous for its 30-second cellphone recharging technology, which the company says will be on the market in the middle of 2016. Altogether, StoreDot has garnered $66 million in funding in its four years of existence.

In addition to helping develop the EV technology, the new investment will help StoreDot build the prototype vehicle it plans to send to Beersheba and back next year, and establish new labs to commercialize the technology.

toreDot’s two development tracks – cellphones and electric vehicles – have a lot in common. The technology for fast-charging in both devices is based on the same concept, at different scales. StoreDot’s nanotechnology-based system turns peptides into energy storage nanotubes, which can store and emit a large amount of energy at one time, using what the company calls Nanodots. With a few such dots, a cellphone can be fully powered in less than a minute. With enough dots – 7,000 – the system can provide the power needed to get an electric car rolling.

Batteries – both because of their size and the time needed to recharge – have been major issues for electric car manufacturers, and experts say that the industry is not going to take off unless batteries can be made smaller and can charge faster.

StoreDot says it has the solution to both. Its new EV FlashBattery, the company says, “charges fully in 5 minutes, providing 300 miles (480 km) of driving distance. This fast charging technology shortens the amount of time drivers will have to wait in line to charge their cars, while also reducing the number of charging posts in each station, and considerably cutting the overall cost of owning an electric car.” Because it charges so quickly, a battery using StoreDot technology can be smaller, making vehicles lighter and batteries cheaper to make, as well.

Not only will the system save time, said StoreDot, but “allowing for less frequent battery replacement due to its increased number of cycles, EV Flash Battery results in a 50% cost reduction per mile over the electric vehicle’s lifetime, compared to existing battery technologies.”

Currently, the electric vehicle with the longest range is the $80,000 Tesla Model S 85 kWh, which can go 265 miles. Only one other – Toyota’s RAV4 EV – can go more than 100 miles (103, to be exact) on a single charge.

It’s a bold claim, but believable enough to gain the interest of top-flight investors, who see StoreDot as the company to supply the fast-recharging technology that is going to turn electric vehicles into the preferred option for car buyers.

“This new EV division is a natural extension of our proprietary FlashBattery technology originally developed for the smartphone domain. This funding brings StoreDot closer to fulfill its vision of a care-free fast-charging future,” said Myersdorf. “Together with our strategic partners, StoreDot will accelerate the process of delivering our FlashBattery technology to the EV market.”

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