Fred Lambert, Electrek.co, August 19, 2016
MIT startup claims a breakthrough for ‘holy grail’ of batteries, doubles energy density
As always, a healthy dose of skepticism is important when it comes to an alleged “battery breakthrough”. Those announcements are being made every 2-3 months over the last decade and rarely anything comes to it, but at least we can always rely on the 5-8% annual incremental improvements in li-ion battery capacity. It’s not a “breakthrough” or doubling of capacity, but it adds up.
Now it’s time for another MIT spinout, after the defunct A123 Systems, to claim to have created the next battery breakthrough with an anode-free li-metal battery that could achieve an energy density of up to 500 Wh/kg – about twice the capacity of the current cells found in Tesla’s vehicles for example.
The claims come from SolidEnergy, a company created in 2012 by MIT alumnus and former postdoc Qichao Hu ’07.
Hu explained his concept to the MIT News Office:
The battery essentially swaps out a common battery anode material, graphite, for very thin, high-energy lithium-metal foil, which can hold more ions — and, therefore, provide more energy capacity. Chemical modifications to the electrolyte also make the typically short-lived and volatile lithium metal batteries rechargeable and safer to use. Moreover, the batteries are made using existing lithium ion manufacturing equipment, which makes them scalable.
After first unveiling a working prototype in October 2015, SolidEnergy raised over $12 million from investors and now plans to start production for some projects with drones, which could really use the higher energy density, and they hope their battery will start making its way into consumer electronics next year.