As the adoption of electrified vehicles races on, Quincy Lee and Elliot Owen – entrepreneurs behind the startup enterprise Electric Era – figure they’re building a better mousetrap when it comes to answering the challenges of charging.
The two former colleagues at the Elon Musk-led, satellite-launching SpaceX are developing innovative, high-powered and fast-charging battery technologies with proprietary cooling functions they believe gives Electric Era, founded in 2019, a market edge in certain energy storage applications.
“Our goal, at least in the early days, is to provide a technology platform – in this case, a battery – that allows for the simplification and the increased affordability of building out high-power EV charging stations,” says Lee, Electric Era’s chief executive. “Those high-power EV charging stations could be used to charge pretty much any vehicle platform.”
But pushing that advancement toward reality had a hitch. While well in command of efforts to create a prototype battery they anticipate demonstrating commercially in the second half of next year, Electric Era lacked the mastery of how to map out the infrastructure to make it all come together.
Enter Black & Veatch.
Through that global infrastructure leader’s “Experts on Demand” service – a provider of targeted insights from its worldwide network of thousands of professionals across infrastructure topics – Electric Era got solid answers to what Lee called “the installation part of the problem.”
“Black & Veatch is well-known as an industry leader for the EV charging marketplace and has done an incredible job establishing all of the standards and actually building out the core infrastructure of what exists out there,” Lee says. “That’s one of our weaknesses. We’re really good battery experts, but the grid interconnection is a completely different side of it.”
The fact of the matter, as Lee puts it for a company that says it’s “rewriting the conventions of EV charging infrastructure,” “we could build the battery, but the battery is meaningless unless you properly interconnect it with the grid.”
For Electric Era, such collaboration gets them closer to resolving the core issues of how to build EV charging sites faster and operate them profitably, decreasing impediments to mass adoption.
“A lot of people don't realize it,” Lee submits, “but high-power charging stations definitively are going to be a prerequisite for mainstream EV automotive adoption, because of the limitations around residential charging for a certain percentage of the population. We're really hoping to break down that barrier for the industry.”
Part of that involves focusing on what Electric Era calls “infrastructure avoidance.” The basics of that: Instead of paying and waiting for a utility to install extremely high power levels, which can be in the megawatts, Electric Era’s battery technology can be used to meet the peak power requirements of an EV charging site, narrowing the baseload power supply needing to be installed.
“So essentially, we work in concert with an existing grid and its baseload power supply to meet the peak power loads. It's a hybrid approach of using a battery plus the existing grid infrastructure,” Lee said “So we've started to work on it with Black & Veatch on quantifying that” in terms of establishing how long it would take to get power delivery from the utility and the cost per kilowatt, “then configurating it from an engineering standpoint to make sure we're optimized for success down the road.”
And with the battery’s advanced cooling, the requirement of a fewer number of battery cells used at higher power levels to meet the load profile saves the EV charging enterprise money.
Helping change the world, a battery at a time. With help that was just a phone call or some computer keystrokes away.
“As a young company, you want to move with a high degree of speed and learn quickly, and Black & Veatch has been actually really helpful with that,” Lee said. “The team that we're working with is actually quite open-minded and definitely recognizes the (challenges) and benefit of the technology, and it has been helpful for us navigating the complexities of this in a very non-frictional manner – through rapid iteration of the idea and a creative approach at what the solution could look like.”
“We wouldn't be able to actually enact these things with confidence and do the appropriate due diligence and research and investigation early on to ascertain if this is even a possibility without these dialogues and this help. So it's been quite instrumental and helpful.”
Founder & CEO
Electric Era Technologies
Founder & CTO
Electric Era Technologies