Because the new battery design only uses an ultra-thin lithium metal anode (shrinking the battery drastically by not having to rely on bulky Li-ion intercalation compounds such as graphite), the company describes these Gen 3 Li-Metal batteries as ‘anode-free’.
The new battery stack consists of the anode (an anode-lyte coating on lithium/copper) and the cathode-lyte, together with separator and a cathode. Anode-lyte and cathode-lyte themselves consist of salts, proprietary ionic liquids and other chemicals to form a solid and liquid hybrid electrolyte solution.
The company took a worldwide exclusive license from MIT and has secured strategic partnerships with manufacturer of advanced lithium-ion batteries A123 Systems as well as consumer electronics companies. While it sources raw materials from the chemical industry to produce the anode and the cathode-lyte, SolidEnergy leverages the existing manufacturing infrastructure of Li-ion battery manufacturers. It sells them the key battery materials as well as helping them develop the engineering and manufacturing processes for target battery designs.
Historically, the startup made its first prototypes in A123’s once-idle facilities in Waltham, which forced SolidEnergy Systems to accommodate its materials to the available manufacturing equipment. This means the new battery can be produced on traditional Li-ion manufacturing lines, making it virtually ready for high volume production.
In October last year, SolidEnergy demonstrated its first working prototype of a rechargeable lithium metal smartphone battery, delivering 2.0A hours at half the size of the lithium ion battery used in an iPhone 6 (with a capacity of 1.8A hours). This successful demonstration helped the startup raise over $12 million from investors.
The company is now ramping up production to officially launch its first commercial product by the end of the year. The new batteries are expected to enter smartphones and wearables early 2017, before entering the EV automotive market the year after.
SolidEnergy Systems: www.solidenergysystems.com
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