Could niobium be the future of electric bikes? Horwin thinks so

The Chinese manufacturer, Howrin, is planning on bringing niobium-powered bikes to the market in 2024, which could significantly reduce charge times.

Horwin CR6. - Horwin.

Horwin, the electric motorcycle manufacturer out of China, is apparently set to reduce charging times for electric two-wheeler batteries to just minutes. 

Strictly speaking, it only takes minutes right now to charge the battery of an electric motorcycle, however Horwin’s proposed technology could potentially reduce a 180-minute charge time to just 10 minutes, according to the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF).

This improvement in charge times would be down to a new element used in the battery. The most popular metal to use at the moment in the battery is ionised lithium, but Horwin is planning to use niobium for its new batteries. 

Niobium, like lithium, is a naturally occurring metal, but elementarily speaking it is much heavier than lithium. 

However, the BMF reports that Toshiba is using niobium titanium oxide for its latest generation of batteries, and that the new material can increase energy density by 1.5-times.

That means that, although the atomic mass of niobium is higher than lithium, it can be used in lighter and smaller batteries while achieving a longer range than the lithium-ion variants. 

The BMF also says that the partner Toshiba is using to supply its niobium is the Brazilian firm CBMM, and Horwin are, according to the BMF, investing $21million with CBMM into their niobium project. 

The prospect of a motorcycle which can fully charge its battery in 10 minutes is quite exciting. Part of the problem with electric vehicles is their charge time, as well as their range, and it seems like a niobium solution, instead of a lithium one, could be a major step forward in both charge time and range.