Startup to Watch: ePower Said They Could Charge EV in 10 Minutes
【Summary】Futurecar reporter recently interviewed the founder of Silicon Valley startup ePower Science, whose bold claim is that they could be number 1 in utilizing GaN technology in the EV charging industry.
We all know that the auto industry is pushing for electric cars, and the trend is accelerating rapidly. According to IHS Inc, the global EV charging stations installation base will grow to more than 12.7 million by 2020. And Pike Research also predicts that 11.4 million EV charging stations will be in operation worldwide by then.
However, the batteries lifetime and the long charging time are two limitations facing the electric vehicle industry. Many EV makers and tech companies are striving to increase the efficiency of power charging, and there seems to be some progress. Futurecar reporter recently interviewed a Silicon Valley based startup ePower Science, who is implementing GaN technology in the EV superfast charging industry, and targeting at power industry disruption.
"Existing EV chargers need 1.5 to 10 hours to fully power a car, while our lightspeed electric car charger can power a vehicle within 10 minutes." Kelvin Ye, founder of the ePower Sciences told Futurecar.
As an engineer who has worked in the semiconductor industry for over 10 years, Ye revealed that his team has made significant progress in utilizing 3rd generation semiconductor GaN technology, to solve the low efficiency problem in power industry.
"Some applications prefer their power solutions to be slim. With other applications, the first priority is the capability to handle huge amount of power. Fueled by Gallium Nitride (GaN) technology, ePower Science is able to reach breakthrough in both directions." ePower Science stated on its company website.
Ye said that their GaN equipment function has set a world record for years. "High-power charging generates high demands on the technology, and compared with other charging stations that use silicon IGBT (insulated-gate bipolar transistor), our technology can reduce energy loss by 50%." Ye said. The company said that their breakthrough GaN power devices and revolutionary converter have great potentials in many areas, including the EV charging industry, electricity transmission, high-speed railways, energy-saving on home appliances, inverter for solar/wind energy, and power supplies for portable devices.
What is GaN?
GaN is short for Gallium nitride. It's a 3rd generation semiconductor material that is resistant to high temperature, radiation, and acid/base erosion. The substance is very hard in texture, and has a crystal structure. The substance has been commonly used in light-emitting diodes (LED's) since the 1990's.
The silicon transistors used today have a constrained power capability that limits how much power the car can handle. This is one of the main reasons why few large electric vehicles are on market.
According to Ye, GaN-based power electronics could also boost power output for electric cars, making them more energy-efficient and lighter, meanwhile cheaper and larger driving range.
"The current limitation lies in the fact that existing charger doesn't allow large electric current to pass, as the semiconductor devices reach their limitation. Too much energy can also cause the battery to burn out, or its internal chip may wear and tear much more quickly. Our 3rd generation GaN technology can solve that problem and the usage efficiency is very high." He said.
As ePower is a newly formed company, Ye and his teammates are in talks with automotive suppliers downstream in the industrial chain, and hopefully some cooperation could be built up from there.
"As a key part in the power industry, we believe that our GaN technology could bring more opportunities not only to us but to all of us."
Claire Peng has over 6 years of professional experience in the media industry, covering TV, newspaper and online media. She was once a reporter and producer for Fairchild Television based in Toronto Canada, and worked as an English news reporter for the Global Times in Beijing. She writes mainly about self-driving, companies investment, and the enterprise lab.
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