With the global micro-mobility market expected to grow to more than US$200bn by 2030, our cities need faster charging along with safer and more economically sustainable battery solutions to expand infrastructure and accelerate adoption. Pivotally, the industry has the opportunity to re-evaluate a tried and true chemistry: lithium-titanate (LTO). Long used in military and industrial applications, LTO batteries can be seen in some Japanese market electric cars today.
Traditional micromobility products use conventional lithium-ion chemistries with nickel, manganese, aluminium, or cobalt oxides. Initially developed and scaled for phones or automobiles, these batteries were not well adapted for the micromobility space.
LTO has historically come with integration challenges, such as its unique voltage profile. However, recent advancements in software and hardware have allowed LTO systems to add a ‘brain’ that can digitally adjust its voltage to make integration much easier. This previous barrier has kept most experts away from LTO, as they did not think such an undertaking was worth their time. However, when AI and machine learning are employed across 26 data metrics, LTO can dramatically outperform conventional lithium-ion batteries in micromobility applications.
Paired with AI, LTO can solve significant pain points within the micromobility sector and bring the industry one step closer to wide-scale adoption. Because LTO has a more active electrode surface area that allows electrical charges to move more easily and quickly, the battery can fully charge in 20 minutes or less. Additionally, it can unlock longer life cycles than lithium-ion batteries.
LTO chemistries offer fire resistance because the chemistry is free of nickel, manganese, aluminium, and cobalt oxides, which are the usual culprits for thermal runaway. Because of immunity to thermal runaway and having longer life cycles and faster charging times, LTO batteries can save owners significantly on capital and operational expenses associated with usage. LTO batteries also have less toxic components than other battery chemistries, which can make them easier to recycle and allow businesses to better meet sustainability goals.
Paired with AI, LTO can solve significant pain points within the micromobility sector
LTO chemistry has traditionally been used in the defence industry for applications such as border surveillance, naval vessel mission systems and propulsion, and establishing micro grids on military bases. However, now the chemistry is being looked at for deployment in the micromobility sector. Advanced technologies such as AI and machine learning provide the support needed to bring this chemistry to mainstream applications. For example, Japanese market versions of Mitsubishi’s i-MiEV and Honda’s EV-neo electric bike, and Fit EV electric car have set out to use LTO batteries. The TOSA concept electric bus also makes use of this chemistry. In addition, newer startup ZapBatt is leading the movement toward utilizing the chemistry for electric bikes and scooters.
The reality is that without practical and scalable charging infrastructure, the deployment of electric bikes and scooters will be minimal. Currently, lithium-ion battery chemistries offer many limitations within the industry, making it necessary to look elsewhere for viable battery technology. By embracing the combination of LTO chemistry and AI, the micromobility sector can grow to reach its full potential in the next decade and significantly improve air quality traffic congestion in cities, thus improving the environment and personal health.
The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.
Charlie Welch is Chief Executive and co founder of ZapBatt
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