Just like the vehicles themselves, the electric vehicle (EV) market will only go as far as batteries take it.
That means that electric vehicle technology and battery technology are not just linked, they are one in the same – few advances in EVs will be possible without advances in batteries. Adding range, power, advanced cabin features, faster charging and enhanced safety all require better batteries.
That’s why the breakthrough work that KULR Technology Group, Inc. (OTCQB: KUTG) is doing is so vital to EVs and the market. In ongoing testing, KULR’s newly engineered carbon fiber cooling systems and materials co-designed with NASA for space flight are proving to make batteries not just more efficient but safer.
KULR’s core technology is a flexible and exceptionally lightweight fabric material that looks and feels like velvet but is made from pure carbon fiber – the most efficient conductor of heat energy on earth. For engineers and system designers the fiber’s flexibility, low contact pressure requirements, weight, and optimum cooling efficiency are game changers that allow them to manage or mitigate heat in ways that simply were not possible just a year ago.
For EVs, better heat management solutions are crucial because old legacy heat solutions such as fans, water pumps, reservoirs, and metal heat plates are heavy and bulky. When you’re burning gas perhaps hauling around 150 pounds of cooling pumps and fans doesn’t matter. But for EVs where less weight translates into more power and farther range, it really matters. And it’s not just for motors and drive components – KULR’s fiber solutions can manage the heat of the EV batteries themselves.
That’s a big deal because of the power demands that can consume an EV battery. Imagine, for example, starting your EV, in 110-degree desert heat, running the air conditioning, running satellite GPS and navigation systems and the drive train – all from a battery that, if it gets too hot, will just shut down, or worse. In conditions like that, keeping that battery cool isn’t just important, it’s essential.
As more demanding systems such as self-driving or collision avoidance technologies are added to cars, heat management will become even more critical. Not only will these new systems demand more power from batteries but their sensitive electronics and lasers, the lynchpin of self-driving technology LIDAR, will degrade as they overheat.
“Innovation isn’t always about doing the impossible,” said Dr.Timothy Knowles, CTO of KULR Technology and a veteran of space thermal management technology. “Many times, the most significant innovations and advances come from solving the most obvious and most common problems. For many technologies, and especially for EVs, heat and power efficiency are constant and serious problems and our technology provides the most serious answer.”
But it turns out using carbon fiber to efficiently cool batteries and high-technology EV components can have even more important benefits when done correctly. In testing with NASA for crewed space flight, KULR’s carbon fiber can be configured to stop dangerous battery fires and explosions.
The safety assembly, known as the KULR Thermal Runaway Shield (TRS), has been proven to contain the potentially catastrophic impacts of thermal runaway where the failure of a single lithium-ion battery cell can trigger a neighboring one and so on in a chain reaction explosion.
It’s not necessary to be an EV scientist to know that limiting or preventing battery fires is a major concern for EV makers – and drivers. Eventually, fire safety systems like KULR’s TRS may be standard in all EVs – not just cars but boats, trains, construction equipment, space and aerospace vehicles and drones. Really, anything with a battery that moves.
If anything is more sensitive than cars in balancing the needs of space and weight with battery power, it’s drones. Drones have to be lighter, deploy more power, go faster, and being airborne, have even less risk for failure.
That’s why, to test and prove their space-designed carbon cooling fiber, KULR has partnered with drone designers, engineers and racers at DR1 – the fastest, most technologically demanding drone racing circuit. Starting this year, KULR will be the DR1 Technology Partner. And what KULR proves in the air will find its way to the road.
“It’s a kind of natural evolution,” CTO, Dr.Timothy Knowles, said. “Our carbon fiber was designed for space and has been used in more than 100 applications for places like Mars and the international space station. Now, we’re making drones lighter, faster and safer and we’re already testing our products for more earth-bound vehicles such as cars and trucks – working our way down so to speak.”
If KULR can crack the EV heat problem — adding to battery efficiency all while making those batteries safer, it would be difficult to over-state the potential contribution to EVs. Consumers are unlikely to turn in the keys to their gas-powered cars and pick up ones for EVs until those alternatives go as far, as fast, as reliably as easily. Doing that will require batteries that are safer and more efficient and KULR may just hold the keys to that.