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California Energy Commission awards almost $1.6M for energy research projects; $600K to Seeo for solid-state Li-ion grid-storage battery system

Conventional Li-ion cell (left) compared to Seeo cell (right). Click to enlarge.

The California Energy Commission has awarded $1,585,490 to spur research on projects including a solid-state Li-ion battery system for grid-scale energy storage. Funds for the 13 projects come from the Public Interest Energy Research (PIER) program.

Commissioners approved $600,000 to Seeo Inc. to develop and test a 25 kWh prototype battery system based on nanostructured polymer electrolytes. The project plans to develop a solid-state grid-scale prototype for advanced lithium-ion rechargeable batteries that addresses the safety, cost, lifetime and energy density issues associated with lithium-ion batteries. The project is intended to help validate the performance advantages of the company’s technology for use in grid-tied energy storage and community energy storage—i.e., less than 100 kW distributed energy storage systems alongside pad-mounted and pole-mounted transformers—applications.

The Commission’s funding is the cost-share for the company’s $6.2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act award from the US Department of Energy. The total cost of the project is $12.4 million. Seeo is contributing $5.6 million for the project. (Earlier post.)

The 25 kWh battery pack represents a more than a 50% improvement in weight and energy density; has 10-15+ year operating life with 3,000-5,000 or more cycles; has no volatile or flammable components; and will be 35% cheaper than existing lithium-ion batteries. This approach allows independent control over mechanical and electrical properties.

Seeo’s cell design couples a solid lithium metal anode with a conventional porous lithium iron phosphate cathode yielding a pouch cell energy density of 235 Wh/kg and 410 Wh/l. The cell can withstand temperatures as high as 150°C and voltages of 10 volts without incident.

Seeo is targeting the production of a total of 1,000 cells with optimized power and energy by December 2011, with final pack design by June 2012. Prototype pack assembly is to be complete by January 2013, with complete prototype pack performance testing and validation by September 2013.

At the core of Seeo’s technology is a novel solid polymer electrolyte material that can transport Li ions while providing inherently safe and stable support for very high energy electrode chemistries. Seeo’s proprietary electrolyte and cell technologies had been in development for nearly ten years within the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and now at Seeo. The company has more than 30 pending patent applications.

Seeo was founded in 2007 with an exclusive license to advanced technology from LBNL, and with initial funding from Khosla Ventures.

The remaining projects are from PIER’s Energy Innovations Small Grant (EISG) program. The program provides money to small businesses, non-profits, individuals and academic institutions to conduct research that establishes the feasibility of new, innovative energy concepts. These grants are capped at $95,000.

The 12 EISG projects approved were:

  • CHA Corporation of McClellan will receive $95,000 for a project to demonstrate microwave-based hydrogen production from biogas for reciprocating engines and fuel cells.

  • nLiten Energy Corporation of Mountain View will receive $95,000 to prove the feasibility of growing thin-film three-dimensional solar cells using self-assembled nanowires onto a low-cost substrate. This technology would increase efficiency and lower production costs.

  • University of California at San Diego will receive $95,000 to reduce the cost of biomass power generation by removing tar from the producer gas in the gasifier.

  • Membrane Technology and Research Inc. of Menlo Park will receive $94,995 to reduce the environmental impacts of the natural gas dehydration process.

  • Green Dot Transportation Inc. of Fremont was awarded $94,953 to study the use of a mechanized charging device to automatically connect plug-in electric vehicles to the grid. This will make electric charging safer and easier.

  • UC Riverside will receive $94,948 for a project that would reduce the power consumption in a hybrid electric vehicle’s air conditioning system and improve air quality in the vehicle. Energy consumption for the vehicle’s air conditioning system is expected to drop by 10 to 35 percent.

  • Mission Motor Company of San Francisco was awarded $94,000 to develop a lightweight onboard charging device that can meet the high power demands of an electric vehicle. Making the onboard charger smaller in size and weight will help improve the viability of plug-in electric vehicles.

  • UC Irvine will receive $91,410 to test a novel monitoring and feedback system to reduce end-use energy consumption in residential buildings in California.

  • Hal Slater of San Diego will receive $80,625 to design and build a high-efficiency natural gas hot water heater system that uses the city water supply as a geothermal heat source for residential hot water.

  • Mogavero Notestine Associates of Sacramento was awarded $50,000 to study an innovative community design that locates high-density housing around a minimum five-acre farm. The project will develop methods to compare the potential transportation energy impacts between this concept and a traditional development.

  • California State University, Northridge was given $49,999 to study the feasibility of using a large-scale system to economically and efficiently generate power from ocean currents near California's coast.

  • UC Berkeley was awarded $49,560 to prove the feasibility of using a new predictive technology to increase energy production from wind turbines using numerical models with Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR) technology.



All worthwhile projects that private free enterprises should have done years ago. Is this solid state lithium battery the same as Toyota has been working on for the last few years? The energy density seems to be much lower.


All questionable projects that none of the private free enterprises in the entire world have judged worthwhile.

But there is too much cash in the CA general fund.


It is amazing to note that some many still believe that private free enterprise does what is worthwhile or best for the general public. What a giant falsification. That's how we got 4-ton, 8 mpg, Hummer I on our roads, 1000 Kcal burgers, 600 Kcal useless energy drinks, 50+%/350+ lbs bulgy people, 40+% with cancers, 20+ % with diabetes, 30+% with heart problems etc etc.


Now, now HarveyD - if capitalism is so evil, I'd be more than happy to help pay for you and all the "Occupy [Wherever]" protesters to have one-way tickets to North Korea and Cuba. You folks should love those countries - no capitalism, no Hummers, no 1000 Kcal burgers, no energy drinks.


ejj: The world may very well have two extremes. On the one hand the countries (plus a few more) you mentioned and on the other hand what USA (plus a few more) has/have become.

Many other countries are in between those two extremes and they do or will benefit from better living standards.

What is happening to USA is nothing new. The equivalent happened to Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome etc. They also started doing very well (for a few centuries) but degenerated with uncontrolled greed and inside corruption and were replaced.

Under-regulated capitalism is much like unregulated dictatorship. Both are high performers for a while but corruption moves in and after a few decades they have to be modified/changed or to be put back on tracks.

We are overdue for a major financial-political-business overhaul. Otherwise, the joy ride may come to a progressive or an abrupt end when the national debt has reached $30T or so and unemployment has gone up from 16.5% to 20+%. At the current rate, that may happen by 2020/2025.


A successful national economy of virtually any country on earth could be compared with an orchestra. The conductor, leading this orchestra, is convinced of his goal and gives his best to achieve it. All the members of an orchestra are aware of the part they play and achieve harmony by contibuting their part and not attempting to excell as a soloist. An orchestra comprised of soloists with every individual striving to top the rest would construe all else but harmony.

Politicians could be compared with a conductor. Regretfully, they do not lead all parts of an economy with the expertise of a conductor. The results in the western economies are chaotic and far remote from harmony. How well everything could be if everyone truly contributed his best to the success of the whole "orchestra".

Maybe someday politicians will actually perform the role they have been elected for and excell in harmony instead of chaos.


#1. Private free enterprise did not make the Hummer, 1000 Kcal burgers, 600 Kcal useless energy drinks SUCCESSFUL, free choice did (no no, not brainwashing).
Likewise excess bulgy people, cancer, diabetes and heart problems.

#2. Was the fall of Babylon, Egypt, Greece, Rome etc brought on by uncontrolled greed or inside corruption? Was greed absent when these societies were forming or was greed made more powerful by corruption.

Was there no greed during our western expansion, or the time of Vanderbilt, or was there less acceptance of corruption and more respect for individual responsibility?

Many believe Rome fell because the gov provided for those who were not productive to keep the peace; but like in London and wall street, when the purse ran low they got off their butts, not to work, but to demonstrate, occupy and riot.

Have people gotten more greedy (those who GET taxes and/or those who make millions) or have people gotten soft and the gov more corrupt?
Does the gov try to create demonstrations, occupations and riots by promising to take from those with 1% of the vote and give to those with 50% of the vote?

#3. A successful national economy could be compared with a successful orchestra. The conductor, leading this orchestra, gives his best. All the members of an orchestra are aware of the part they play and achieve harmony by contributing their part (like ants). But if they cannot conduct or play better than someone else, they are replaced, in a successful orchestra.

#4. The California Energy Commission or any California agency should not be spending money on such gambles when the state is bankrupt and these politicians have no stake in the possibility of payback.

Ben Frigo-Vaz

Yeah I'm siding with Harvey and the like, mix markets are the way to go.

Anyways back on the topic: Why lithium? Grid storage does not need the light weight or minimized size, only to be cheap, for that would not a Sodium-Sulfur or Vanadium Flow Cell make better economic sense?

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