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Electric Mobility

Mobility News | February 2023

A number of exciting electric battery and green hydrogen developments are being made in Germany's thriving future mobility sector.

High-performance solid-state battery breakthrough in Bayreuth

A team of researchers at the University of Bayreuth has developed an ultra-thin solid electrolyte for electric mobility use. Led by Prof. Dr. Seema Agarwal, the Bayreuth researchers have created a very thin solid electrolyte consisting of a polymer-ceramic composite. Compared to earlier solid-state batteries, the new system encloses the cathode particles like a shell, thereby creating an optimized interface that can increase battery energy-storage capacity thanks to ions activated in the cathode. Another advantage of the ultrathin solid electrolyte interacting with the cathode is that it greatly increases the operational reliability of the batteries – meaning no more battery leaks or potentially serious fires. “All these risks are eliminated or at least significantly reduced by our ultra-thin composite solid electrolyte, which has high thermal stability," explained Prof. Dr. Seema Agarwal, Professor of Macromolecular Chemistry at the University of Bayreuth.

New technology makes wireless charging more efficient

A number of German companies – including Intis and Wiferion – are currently developing wireless charging technologies that make electric charging of vehicles more efficient. Market entrants can expect to enter a market that, according to Siemens’ forecasts, will see the market in Europe and North America alone grow to USD 2 billion by 2028. Inductive charging solutions see induction plates embedded into the ground, with their counterparts located underneath the electric vehicle. Stationary or slow-moving vehicles that drive over the induction plates are then charged. The TALAKO pilot project in Cologne has been charging electric taxi cabs using the contactless technology since 2022.

Where inductive charging previously had an efficiency rate of less than 80 percent, current solutions have an efficiency rate of 90 percent and more. Volkswagen recently achieved a 98 percent efficiency rate at its Knoxville innovation hub in the USA – allowing a Porsche Taycan to be charged to 80 percent in just 10 minutes. In Lathen in Lower Saxony, Hamburg-based Intis is developing infrastructure solutions for future transport systems. And in Vaihingen in Baden-Württemberg, the University of Stuttgart is testing its “Mobilab” test track which is generating 20 KW of power per meter of coil length used. According to the team, overall inductive efficiencies in the 95 percent region are achievable using a technology that will potentially change the nature of electric mobility.

German electric vehicle charging breakthrough

German researchers have developed a fast-charging station with 450 kilowatts of charging power. This should be able to charge an e-car battery with enough energy for a range of 400 kilometers in 15 minutes when connecting to a specially developed “Bomobil” vehicle. The research team, including researchers from Hofer Powertrain, Bochum University of Applied Sciences, Innolectric, Keysight Technologies, Sensor-Technik Wiedemann, and Voltavision – believe that the breakthrough will make fast-charging passenger-vehicle stations a thing of the not-so-distant future. The project received EUR 3.2 million in funding from the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Action.

Australian start-up to build pilot facility in Hagen

The Australian start-up Pure Battery Technologies (PBT) wants to produce the starting material for cathodes needed to build electric car batteries in Germany. A pilot factory is to be built on a derelict site belonging to chemical manufacturer Königswarter & Ebell in Hagen. Construction is scheduled to start in spring 2023. The goal is an annual production capacity of up to 15,000 tons of precursor cathode material. According to PBT, this translates into end products: cathode material will be produced for batteries for up to 150,000 cars the size of the VW ID.3. The University of Queensland spin-off company, which received a EUR 36.7 million loan from the European Investment Bank, is currently in discussions with a number of prospective clients and investors.

Allgäu start-up’s supermarket charging platform

A cleantech start-up from Kempten in Allgäu has developed fast-charging stations with battery storage that can be sited in supermarket parking lots. According to the southern German company, the Numbats solution can charge an electric vehicle from zero to 80 percent capacity within 15 to 30 minutes. The southern German company claims that its patented climate protection technology and multi-lifecycle approach makes it one of the most sustainable solutions providers in the market. Numbats also carries out the installation of solar panel systems on supermarket roofs that feed into the charging stations. The company has tapped into a potentially lucrative niche, with all new building construction legally obliged to install rooftop solar energy systems, making a retrofit of existing buildings also highly likely.

Tesla to expand Grünheide Gigafactory

Tesla has received formal approval to expand its Grünheide factory site by 100 hectares. According to reports, the car giant plans to build logistics areas, a customer service center, an employee daycare center, and training facilities. A freight station is also reportedly in the planning. The company also plans to increase actual factory capacity, taking production from 500,000 vehicles to one million vehicles annually.

Bavarian start-up develops “Arthur” hydrogen bus

A Bavarian start-up has developed an “H2 Zero” fuel cell bus that has already received European Union approval. According to the company, initial testing of the “Arthur” bus in Bavaria has confirmed low consumption and high distance ranges – less than six kilograms of hydrogen used per 100 kilometers – in practice. Comparable hydrogen buses typically require between eight and ten kilograms of hydrogen for similar ranges. The company is already taking part in tenders in a number of European countries.

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