BP announced Tuesday it plans to invest $20 million in StoreDot, an Israeli startup that claims to offer 5-minute electric-vehicle charging with a new generation of lithium-ion batteries.
“Ultra-fast charging is at the heart of BP’s electrification strategy," said Tufan Erginbilgic, chief executive of BP downstream, in a statement. "StoreDot’s technology shows real potential for car batteries that can charge in the same time it takes to fill a gas tank."
StoreDot is currently developing lithium ion-based battery technology that enables super-fast charging for both mobile and industrial markets. The startup demonstrated a proof of concept for 5-minute EV charging last year, showing investors how its new organic compounds combined with nanomaterials are implemented in the battery cell.
The firm's new "flash batteries" are currently in the advanced stages of development. StoreDot plans to deploy the technology in mobile devices as early as next year. BP’s investment will help bring the technology to vehicles.
StoreDot claims its batteries contain an eco-friendly electrolyte that's stable at high temperatures and allows an EV to travel for more than 300 miles on a single charge. The promise of StoreDot's technology recently caught the eye of Daimler's truck and buses unit, which led a $60 million investment in StoreDot in September of last year.
StoreDot's “flash battery” departs from traditional lithium-ion batteries in the active materials it uses, according to Ravi Manghani, senior director of energy storage at GTM Research. Typical lithium-ion batteries use metal oxides, whereas StoreDot is commercializing the use of polymers.
"This can improve the energy density, as well as allow less reliance on metals such as nickel and cobalt," said Manghani. "There are additional safety attributes, which may be important as well."
Another company that's working on a polymer-based battery solution, Ionic Materials, has also been in the news for having recently scored an investment from the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.
"This technology has great promise. I don't really know how quickly it can be commercialized, though," said Manghani. "There's always a gap in battery technology R&D between lab or pilot results and actual manufacturing at scale. We project polymer-based chemistries have the potential to become mainstream sometime in the 2030 time frame."
A strategic investor like BP can afford to wait. The company's Advanced Mobility Unit was set up to build material, sustainable businesses for BP’s downstream business in a low-carbon, digitally enabled future — giving the oil giant a foothold in the evolving cleantech market.
BP significantly boosted its EV projections in its most recent energy outlook. Earlier this year, BP's venture arm invested in mobile EV charging company FreeWire Technologies. Other oil majors have also made recent cleantech investments.
“With our growing portfolio of charging infrastructure and technologies, we’re excited by our opportunities to develop truly innovative EV customer offers," said Erginbilgic. "We are committed to be the fuel provider of choice — no matter what car our customers drive.”