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BP Funds Fast-Charging Battery Maker

BP Ventures has provided US$20 million in funding to an Israeli startup that makes ultrafast-charging batteries, which aims to make it possible for electric cars to charge in just five minutes—in a time comparable to filling a tank with gas, the supermajor said today.

“Ultra-fast charging is at the heart of BP’s electrification strategy. StoreDot’s technology shows real potential for car batteries that can charge in the same time it takes to fill a gas tank,” BP Downstream’s chief executive Tufan Erginbilgic said.

StoreDot has already developed an ultrafast-charging lithium-ion battery for mobile devices, and now plans to use the technology for car batteries. The mobile devices battery should become commercially available next year, but there is no timeline for the car battery.

Charging times are one of the biggest challenges on the road to widespread EV adoption, about as big as the reliability of batteries. The fact that too-fast charging can kill the battery only aggravates these challenges. Also, lithium-ion battery technology has recently gained negative attention because of the inherent risk of combustion, which could cause the vehicle to explode.

Despite these challenges, lithium-ion batteries continue to be the dominant ones on the market. As oil majors reorient their priorities towards cleaner forms of energy, they are more than willing to spend money on technologies that link their principal business with new revenue streams for the future.

Car charging is a natural focus for the supermajors. BP already has a footprint of 70 EV charging points across its global fuel station network, which may not be a whole lot, but it signals the company’s willingness to take part in the EV revolution. Also, earlier this year, the supermajor acquired a company that manufactures quick-charging systems, FreeWire Technologies, suggesting that rapid charging of electric cars is a niche that BP is particularly interested in.

By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com



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