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University of Illinois licenses StructurePore cathode technology to Xerion for commercialization of the ultra-rapid charging technology

20 July 2011

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has entered into a licensing agreement with Xerion Advanced Battery Corp under which Xerion has the exclusive right to bring the University’s patented StructurePore electrode technology to the market. The StructurePore technology was developed by Dr. Paul Braun, of the Department of Materials, Science & Engineering at the University of Illinois, who is presently also an officer and director of Xerion.

In a paper published in Nature Nanotechnology in March, Braun and his group reported on the development of a self-assembling three-dimensional nanostructure for battery cathodes (supporting both Li-ion and NiMH chemistries) that allows for faster charging and discharging without sacrificing energy storage capacity. (Earlier post.)

Xerion and the University believe that this technology, now called “StructurePore”, will enable Xerion to develop a rechargeable battery with significantly higher charging capacity than that which is presently available with ultra-fast charge / ultra-fast discharge capabilities. Dr. Braun and his colleagues believe that the StructurePore technology has the potential to, for example, almost instantly charge cell phone batteries and rapidly charge laptops and electric cars within a matter of several minutes.

As reported in their paper, the bicontinuous nanoarchitecture consists of an electrolytically active material sandwiched between rapid ion and electron transport pathways. The team achieved rates of up to 400C and 1,000C for lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride chemistries, respectively (where a 1C rate represents a one-hour complete charge or discharge), enabling fabrication of a lithium-ion battery that can be 90% charged in 2 minutes.

Xerion intends to direct future development of the technology by utilizing higher power output chemistries. By focusing on these new electrode architectures, Dr. Braun and his Xerion colleagues believe that they may have found a way to greatly reduce the polarization effects of current batteries, thereby greatly increasing power and density. Xerion believes that the development of a new prototype battery will contain what Xerion has labeled as “superhighway-like” avenues for electrons and ions to move at ultra fast speeds while filling a charge and thus resulting in rapid battery charging capability.

Robert Zavala, CEO of Xerion, expressed the Company’s primary goal of developing delivery capabilities for rapid-charging batteries to military, industry and consumers. The benefits to each sector are obvious. Zavala specifically stressed the importance of making this technology available to the US Military as quickly as possible for use in overseas military activities and operations.

Xerion Advanced Battery Corp. is a Colorado-based firm specializing in the development, manufacture and commercialization of advanced nano-based technologies. In June, Xerion opened new labs and offices at EnterpriseWorks, a startup business incubator in the University of Illinois Research Park for early stage tech firms.

Resources

  • Huigang Zhang, Xindi Yu & Paul V. Braun (2011) Three-dimensional bicontinuous ultrafast-charge and -discharge bulk battery electrodes. doi: 10.1038/nnano.2011.38

July 20, 2011 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack (0)

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Good, this advance could open doors - if the economics is cheap enough, if the market date is soon enough, if the process scales, if the battery life is many hundreds of cycles, if a good company provided this sort of information, if a good article published this sort of information..

A lot of 'ifs' but it would be more than welcomed for future BEVs. An ultra fast recharge every 300 Km or so, would make BEVs highway capable vehicles. With ultra fast charge capabilities, we may not require extended e-range much over 300 Km. A short 5-minute stop every 3 hours is OK to stretch the legs and/or switch driver.

Super rapid charging of EVs will present quite the infrastructure challenge. How massive an electric service would a service station need in order to charge 8 EVs simultaneously at rates approximating the rate of energy transfer available with liquid fuels? Will future service station have massive ultra-capacitors underground instead of gasoline/diesel tanks?

I'm with Kelly. To paraphrase something I posted here three years ago:

Nobody should publish anything externally about battery breakthroughs unless they give the real story:
- energy density
- power density
- cycle life
- safety issues
- cost
- shelf life

and for energy density, I mean USABLE energy! Who cares how dense it is if you can only use 50% without damaging the cell

And if they won't proudly state all those then they have something to hide. The one(s) they don't talk about, are usually show-stoppers.

And it's ok to have one or even two a tech is not good at. There are still applications where it will thrive. But it gets so frustrating to see all these wonderful announcements and then wonder where they all went five years later when we're still using the same damn lithium polymer batteries.

@Nick
Possibly, the service stations will have huge capacitors and high-amp connections to the grid.

Stations with sparsely populated areas (highway stations) may also have a solar-wind dual power station for themselves (e.g: a 5 MW single-wind tower with a similar-wattage solar part), so they can fill the average number of stopping cars without drawing huge amps from the grid.

DC to DC seems to be one of the best suited way for ultra quick charge. Locally produced and stored clean (Solar-Wind) would be ideal at every battery charge station. Grid power could still be used to slowly recharge the station batteries/capacitors whenever and if required

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