Zap&Go: A Graphene Supercapacitor for Mobile Phones
As we highlighted in a recent article, with all the promises of graphene being the next super material to enable a host of disruptive technologies, the actual commercialization of graphene products seems to be progressing at a snail’s pace. However, one graphene enabled product we came across recently from a startup called Zapgocharger seems to have some disruptive potential. The Zap&Go is a graphene supercapacitor that can help extend the battery life of your smartphone.
Founded in 2013, Zapgocharger was originally called London Graphene. After receiving a UK Government grant, the company began to conduct market research into advanced energy storage applications (including supercapacitors) and in early 2014, licensed patents from the Materials Science group at Oxford University in chemical vapor disposition (CVD) graphene. CVD produces very high-quality graphene, orders of magnitude more conductive than copper, enabling Zapgocharger to develop supercapacitor applications.
The Zap&Go Product
eMarketer expects that as of 2014, 1.75 billion people in the world use smartphones. That’s 1 out of every 4 people. The number one feature that every smartphone user wants to see improved is that of battery life. Since almost all smartphones operate on lithium-ion batteries, we’ll need to wait for companies such as Amprius to develop advanced lithium-ion battery technologies that allow for more storage capacity. In the meantime, external chargers have become a popular way to increase battery life. Take the +Lifeguard Mini.
Plug the +Lifeguard into the wall for 5 hours to achieve a full charge and you can then recharge your smartphone 1.5 times while on the road. About the size of a lipstick pack, the product is currently available on Amazon for $23 USD. But what if you don’t have 5 hours to wait for the +Lifeguard to charge? Enter the graphene supercapacitor from Zapgocharger:
The graphene enabled ZAP&GO charger is the first supercapacitor based charger for smartphones. The advantage of a supercapacitor is that it can accept and deliver charge much faster than batteries, and tolerate many more charge and discharge cycles than rechargeable batteries. Just how fast can it charge? Zap&Go claims that their supercapacitor can charge in just 5 minutes.
The ZAP&GO loses only 20% of its power in 72 hours (about the same rate as a lithium battery). The price of a ZAP&GO charger is just $149 plus postage and packing and it comes with 5 clip-on plug adaptors that cover all sockets around the world. The unit is clearly larger than a lipstick package, and weighs 12.35 ounces.
At this price point, the product is not cheap. Will consumers really pay an extra $120 USD to save some charging time? The answer seems to be yes. Zap&Go launched an Indiegogo campaign late last year in which they were looking to raise $30,000 to bring the product to market. They raised nearly 4 times that amount with the campaign closing at $114,000 raised. Those who funded the campaign can expect to receive their graphene supercapacitors in Q3 of this year and in Q4 2015, the product is expected to begin shipping to distributors.
While the current price point makes this more of a luxury product compared to lithium alternatives such as the +Lifeguard Mini, it’s still exciting to see what appears to be the first portable graphene-enabled energy storage device coming to market soon.
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