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


Officials of a Carlsbad-based startup expect their battery technology to transform the way electric-powered tools and e-bikes are charged. Once the technology is scaled up, the company believes it will transform even more sectors in 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.

Engineers at ZapBatt have created a battery-operating system that can be used as an adapter for all devices that are powered by 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 cannot just plug in a battery of 12 or 18 volts to the vacuum. It just won’t be able to work,” Felzer said. “But we’re adjusting the voltage to get it what it needs.”

ZapBatt technology uses Toshiba SCiB Lithium Titanium Oxide (LTO) batteries.

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.

Glenn, also the chief operating officer at ZapBatt said that this was a “starting gun” for them. “We’re ready to go and we accept anyone interested in this tech and we’re already talking to some major companies.”

ZapBatt has announced a new partnership with Toshiba.

Toshiba Vice President and General manager Greg Mack stated in a press release that “our technology has now been able to penetrate markets previously out-of-reach, allowing us to apply it across a broader spectrum of markets.”

Safety is one of the main selling points for Toshiba’s SCiB Technology.

Many electronic devices use lithium ion batteries, which can cause fires. Although it’s rare, excessive heat inside a battery or a circuit malfunction can cause a chemical reaction to spread in a chain reaction. This is called “thermal ranaway.”

Glenn said that ZapBatt’s LTO batteries have never been documented to experience thermal runaway.

“This is a major, major point of advantage,” Glenn said — especially after a string of deadly fires in New York City connected to overheated e-bikes. In 2023, the New York Fire Department reported 267 fires which led to 18 fatalities and 150 injuries.

LTO batteries can also operate at temperatures as low a minus 22 degrees Fahrenheit.

ZapBatt battery operating system touts:

  • It is possible to achieve 80 percent charge in under six minutes.
  • Battery life extended to more that 20,000 cycles even with fast charging.

Glenn said, “With LTO you get 20,000 cycles instead of 1,000 or 1500 cycles with these (batteries). There is almost no degradation.”

This would have major implications for a wide range of settings, such as warehouses and distribution centres that rely increasingly on robots and automated system to move equipment and transport material.

Felzer sees battery technology progressing from e-bikes and appliances to electric cars and autonomous vehicles, and even airplanes powered with electricity instead of jetfuel.

“What has been unlocked is a business model that’s very interesting,” Felzer said. “Because now you can scale across (battery) chemistries, you can scale across producers and manufacturers — into all the markets you can conceive of in terms of rechargeable batteries.”

A safer battery technology could also ease concerns about thermal runaway in energy storage facilities that use utility-scale batteries. Some neighbors are opposed to the construction of a 320-megawatt, 1,280-megawatt-hour facility that renewable energy company AES is planning between Escondido & San Marcos. They are worried about a possible fire if this facility is built.

Felzer said that improved battery technology has “a lot of domino effect implications.”

A study by the international consulting firm McKinsey & Company estimated the global battery market will grow 30 percent annually, as governments try to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels and transition to electrification. California policymakers aim to get 60 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2030 and 100 per cent from carbon-free sources in 2045.

ZapBatt is a private company founded by Charles Welch and Felzer in 2019. It has 12 full-time staff, including 10 engineers.

Welch, according to Felzer, is the one who came up with the name for the company.

“It makes sense,” Felzer said. This is because batteries that charge quickly are a priority. “It’s like zap — just plug it in and, poof, it’s fully charged.”


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