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Zap! California startup touts its new battery technology as a fast-charging 'universal adapter'

Rob Nikolewski, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Science & Technology News

Officials at a startup based in Carlsbad, California, expect a battery technology they have engineered will transform the way e-bikes and electric-powered hand-held tools are charged. And once it's scaled up, they believe the technology will reshape even more sectors of the economy.

"We unleash batteries here," said Daniel Glenn, president of ZapBatt, a company headquartered in a 4,000-square-foot office not far from McClellan–Palomar Airport.

ZapBatt engineers have designed a battery operating system that acts as a universal adapter for devices that run on electricity.

At his lab bench, company co-founder and Chief Technical Officer David Felzer takes a 12-volt battery and, through a process using ZapBatt's software and hardware technology, increases the effective voltage level to 25 volts — enough to power a cordless vacuum cleaner — within a matter of seconds.

"Traditionally, you can't just plug in a 12-volt or 18-volt battery to the vacuum; it just won't work," Felzer said. "But we're manipulating the voltage so that it gets whatever it needs."

ZapBatt's technology uses trademarked SCiB Toshiba lithium titanium oxide (LTO) battery cells during the process.

 

And ZapBatt officials say their battery operating system opens the door for different battery chemistries to easily integrate into all kinds of consumer products — from electric power tools and appliances, to e-bikes, to industrial robotics.

"This is really the starting gun for us," said Glenn, who is also ZapBatt's chief operating officer. "We're ready for the market and we are accepting anyone who's interested in this technology and we're talking to some major players."

Already in partnership with Toshiba, ZapBatt and the Japanese electronics giant recently announced an expansion of their collaboration efforts.

"Breaking through technological and cost barriers to enter markets previously out of reach, our technology can now be applied across a wider spectrum of markets," Toshiba vice president and general manager Greg Mack said in a statement.

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