Chinese startup Greater Bay Technology has claimed that its new electric vehicle (EV) battery can work in any weather. Called the Pheonix cell, the battery uses superconducting materials and thermal management to bring freezing temperatures to normal room temperature in just five minutes, Bloomberg reported.
Extreme temperatures have been the bane for batteries of electric vehicles since they were introduced. As the temperature dips below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (zero degrees Celcius), EV batteries lose their charging efficiency, making it difficult for owners to rely on the range offered by the cars.
Carmakers have turned to installing heat pumps to keep battery temperatures in a high-efficiency range, but that, too, is an inefficient way to manage the battery. Founded in 2020, Greater Bay Technology is looking to radically change how EV batteries operate and, with its Phoenix cell, claims to have tackled a major headache for EV makers.
Greater Bay Technology was founded by Huang Xiangdong, along with industry veteran Pei Feng in 2020. Huang and Pei were colleagues at GAC, the third most popular EV brand in China after BYD and Tesla.
Huang studied automotive engineering in Italy in the 1980s and worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Fiat’s research center for five years before returning to China in 1991. From 2006, Huang led the R&D Center at GAC, where he oversaw the development of the GS4 SUV, one of the company’s most popular models.Huang retired in 2016 but returned in 2020 to bring in battery technology that can make EVs as easy to own and operate as gasoline-powered cars.
Their first-generation battery can recharge in about 15 minutes and can deliver a range of 310 miles (500 km). The technology is already being implemented in GAC’s Aion, an electric SUV, the Bloomberg report said.
The next-generation Phoenix cell can deliver a range of 621 miles (1,000 km) on a single charge. According to Huang, the use of superconducting materials and thermal management technology in the cell ensures that the battery can be heated back from temperatures as low as -4 Fahrenheit (-20 degrees Celsius) to 77 Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius) in just five minutes.
Now that the battery is within its normal operating temperature range, it can be rapidly charged and reach full capacity in just six minutes. Effectively, the cell can be used in any weather conditions and is equivalent to filling the tank of a gasoline-powered car, matching the company’s vision. “The Phoenix battery not only addresses the long charging time for EVs, but other pain points. It doesn’t matter if it’s a hot day or a cold day, the Phoenix battery’s range won’t be affected.”
Huang is confident that his technology will increase the mass adoption of EVs. The Phoenix cell could be seen in action as early as next year on GAC’s Aion EVs as well as EVs of other carmakers.
In just two years, Greater Bay Technology has become a unicorn company, valued at $1 billion, and finds itself mentioned along with battery bigwigs like Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL) and BYD in China.
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