Niobium Powers Landspeed Record Candidate Lightning Tachyon Nb

CBMM has partnered with American company Lightning Motorcycles to develop the Tachyon Nb, an electric motorcycle that will attempt to break the land speed record for commercial motorcycles. We were one of the few to take a close look and find out what role Niobium will play in the future of mobility.

Tachyon Nb is an electric motorcycle that will attempt to break the land speed record for commercial motorcycles.

By Yogendra Pratap:

The 41st element in the periodic table, niobium is a superconductor that is finding new uses in a range of electromobility solutions and its traditional use in making steel tougher and stronger is also finding acceptability in the manufacture of frames and chassis in mobility solutions. Brazilian company CBMM, the world’s largest producer of niobium and its derivatives, worked with Lighting Motorcycles to develop the Tachyon Nb – an electric motorcycle aimed at breaking the world land speed record for electric motorcycles and subsequently for commercial motorcycles.

As I write this I was expecting to have some numbers to put on testing at Bonneville and hopefully some breaking news on a new land speed record. Unfortunately, inclement weather and unseasonal flooding at the Bonneville Salt Flats has put a damper on season racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats and the Tachyon Nb will be put to the test in November in the Mojave Desert and later in Bonneville when conditions are more suitable. on the salt flats.

The Tachyon Nb project aimed to improve the performance of an electric bicycle to beat the current land speed record and exceed 400 km/h. “This bold partnership serves as a platform to test and validate Niobium technologies that we believe could play an important role in the mobility segment. For this collaboration, we have implemented brake discs containing niobium to improve high temperature performance, several niobium components in the on-board charger which allow the whole system to be more reliable and efficient, and finally steel tubes containing niobium in the swing. arms and frames that allow us to meet the strength and weight requirements of the application,” says Daniel Wright, CBMM engineer and project development manager.

Tachyon Nb

“To achieve the required capabilities and test the bike through its capability curve, the Tachyon Nb will initially run on a 400 volt battery which will be replaced with an 800 volt battery to dramatically increase performance,” says Richard Hatfield, the CEO and founder of Lightning Motorcycles.

Although the charger module has already been made both smaller and lighter with Niobium applications, it is possible to use more Niobium applied components, including the battery, which will provide better performance at the same time. charging and discharging at high speed.

Tachyon Nb

And while using both an aluminum alloy frame and carbon fiber to reduce the weight of many components and parts has always been a possibility, niobium steels have been used in many places at instead, highlighting the fact that apart from the use in batteries and components, the traditional use of niobium is also very relevant nowadays and sooner or later there will be a return to steel.

From lab to market

JEAN DE LA VERPILLIERE – CEO, Echion Technologies, UK

Q. What are the advantages of Li-ion batteries with XNO anodes?

A. Traditional anode materials like lithium, titanium oxide, and graphite tend to form dendrites under rapid load, which can rupture the cell and cause a major and sometimes catastrophic failure. Our mixed niobium oxide anodes do not have this tendency to form dendrites and are therefore much safer under fast charging. It also dramatically increases battery life and the number of times the battery can be charged, reducing the long-term cost of ownership.

Q. How fast can a battery powered by XNO be charged?

A. We have already seen practically that these can be charged in as little as 6 minutes with the appropriate charger of course.

Q. Are these batteries commercially available and who uses them?

A. Currently they are going to be used in mining where machines cannot afford downtime but at the same time we are increasing production and also licensing our product so that it can be used for other purposes where fast and safe charging is required. obligatory. We should be able to adjust production and supply by next year.

The future of electric mobility


Q. How much does CBMM invest in electro-mobility?

A. This is of course a very rapidly developing and growing market and we expect niobium and its derivatives to play an increasingly important role in this sector. By the end of this decade, we expect 25% of CBMM’s net revenue to come from batteries. While last year net revenues exceeded $2 billion, we expect them to also grow in step with the growth of electric mobility.

Q. How will CBMM ensure that it, along with niobium, plays an important role in the battery segment?

A. We already have more than 25 partnerships of different types, ranging from equity participation and grants to universities, with companies ranging from start-ups to established players in the field like Toshiba Corporation, all of which are developing different ways in which the niobium and its derivatives can be used to make batteries safer, faster to charge and last longer. Some of these developments relate to the anode while others relate to the cathode. People working on these developments range from Nobel laureates to students who have just completed their research in this field.

Q. How can these Niobium batteries be used in markets like India?

A. The application of niobium to lithium-ion batteries has many advantages and one of the most important is that they are much safer in extreme temperatures, especially in very hot climates. Risks of thermal runaway are minimal and the need for large and expensive cooling systems is eliminated due to niobium’s super conductivity.

Second, the charging time and cost of electric vehicles. Batteries are the biggest cost when buying an electric vehicle. So if we can have niobium batteries that can be charged in as much time as it takes to fill up with fuel, then how big do those batteries need to be? The size of these batteries can be reduced considerably and make the electric vehicle much cheaper and affordable.

I watch the huge motorcycle market in India with great interest, as well as large fleets, as both can benefit immensely from the application of one or more of the technologies that have been developed using Niobium.

Niobium oxide anodes are much safer when fast charging and also help to significantly improve battery life.

Working on Battery Tech with Niobium

  • Toshiba Company – The battery cell anode technology containing Niobium Titanium Oxide (NTO) was developed by CBMM in partnership with the Japanese company.
  • Battery series (BSI) – BSI is a startup linked to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). BSI’s patented technology uses nanostructured niobium oxide as the anode of lithium-ion batteries. CBMM acquired a 20% stake in BSI.
  • Echion Technologies – This Cambridge-based start-up with CBMM as one of its investors has developed niobium-based anode materials that allow Li-ion cells a unique combination of fast charging, safety and energy density high.
  • Nano One Materials – CBMM has a partnership with this Canadian company which has a unique and patented process for applying niobium oxide to the cathodes, which allows for even greater safety and better vehicle performance.
  • Nyobolt- Clare Grey, a professor at the University of Cambridge, and co-founder of this Cambridge start-up, collaborated with John B Goodenough, who won the 2019 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the development of lithium-ion batteries with anodes using niobium and tungsten that allow electric vehicles to recharge in minutes.

Robert M. Larson