In the spring of 2020, the French company Veloci Industries will market the first battery-free electric bike. It will work using the energy produced by pedaling!
A lithium-ion battery can only turn the wheels a few thousand times, but supercapacitors can do up to a million!Every year across the world, the mining industry produces 43,000 metric tons of lithium. This metal, the lightest on the planet, is in particular used to manufacture lithium-ion batteries for powering smartphones, cars… and electric bikes.
But locally the production of this rare metal has major ecological and social consequences. It contributes to the scarcity of water resources - needed in large quantities for extraction - and is a source of pollution, due to toxic chemicals used and released into the environment. "Inevitably, the extraction of lithium has serious consequences on the soil and also contaminates the atmosphere," says the NGO Friends of the Earth. Only 5% of lithium-ion batteries marketed in the European Union are collected. At the end of their life, most go to landfill or are incinerated. A worrying finding since the market for electric mobility continues to grow, especially for electric bikes. In 2017, electric bike sales increased in France by 90% with 255,000 sold. Ten years earlier, 10,000 were sold. In France, under the Investments for the Future Program, which has a budget of nearly 47 billion euros, the French State has selected the research and development program launched by Veolia and Renault, under the name RE-B-LIVE, for "Recycling Li-Ion batteries used in electric vehicles". For the State, the challenge is to promote the emergence of a competitive automotive battery recycling and recovery sector.
In the meantime, storage systems that can be used instead of lithium-ion batteries must be found. The French company Veloci Industries has developed the first electric bike with no battery or recharging. Called Ufeel, this autonomous bike "overcomes recharging constraints and encourages green mobility," argues Adrien Lelièvre, CEO of Veloci Industries.
This innovation is powered by supercapacitors, a unique energy storage system. The rider just has to pedal and a generator produces electricity. Energy is stored in the supercapacitors, which replace the lithium-ion batteries.
The advantages of these supercapacitors? First, making them doesn’t require rare resources - only carbon, aluminum and salt. Moreover, they are easily recyclable. Aluminum in particular is 100% recyclable - without its properties altering - and the recycling process consumes very little energy.
Last advantage of these supercapacitors is their long life. A lithium-ion battery can only turn the wheels a few thousand times, but supercapacitors can do up to a million!
Although you’ll have to wait until spring 2020 to buy this 100% autonomous bike, you can already vote for its design on the Ufeel website. As for the price, it should be in line with that of the electric bikes already on the market at between €1,500 and €2,000.
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