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Boulder Ionics raises $4.3M for high-throughput production of ionic liquid electrolytes for energy storage devices

27 April 2012

Boulder Ionics Corporation, a startup that has developed a novel, high-throughput, low-cost synthesis platform for producing ionic liquid electrolytes for use in advanced energy storage devices, completed a $4.3-million Series A financing.

With this $4.3 million financing and grant awards totaling almost $1 million from the National Science Foundation (NSF), US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy (USN), Boulder Ionics will demonstrate the use of ionic-liquid-based electrolytes in a range of devices from ultracapacitors and lithium-ion batteries to metal-air batteries. Batteries using ionic liquid electrolytes can be non-flammable, are stable at higher temperatures and can operate at higher voltages (increasing energy density and lowering cost).

The over-subscribed financing round was led by Pangaea Ventures, and joined by new investors 9th Street Investments, CalCEF Clean Energy Angel Fund, and JSR Corporation as well as existing investors including Protonic Capital.

Ionic liquids (room-temperature molten salts) are a relatively new class of materials that show promise for electrolytes in energy storage applications. Ionic liquids can be safer and higher-performance replacements for the flammable organic solvents currently used in devices such as lithium-ion batteries. Although there is worldwide interest the use of ionic liquid electrolytes the energy storage market, commercial use has been limited due to lack of supply and high cost.

Boulder Ionics will be the first US manufacturer targeting production of ionic liquids in industrial volumes. Its product line is divided into three product families:

  • The Iolyte-P family consists of pure ionic liquids for customers who will formulate their own electrolytes or who use the ionic liquid for non-electrolyte applications.

    Iolyte-P1 is an ultra-high-purity grade of 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(trifluoromethylsulfonyl)imide (CAS #174899-82-2) produced by a proprietary synthetic route that yields low impurity content, with particularly low halide and water content. Exhibiting low viscosity, high conductivity and a wide electrochemical window, Iolyte-P1 is among the leading candidates for batteries using metal anodes and for ultracapacitors. It is not the best choice for lithium-ion batteries with graphite anodes, according to the company.

    Iolyte-P2 (EMIM FSI) is a high-purity ionic liquid optimized for battery applications. Iolyte-P2 is a ultra-high-purity grade of 1-ethyl-3-methylimidazolium bis(fluorosulfonyl)imide (CAS #235789-75-0) produced by a proprietary synthetic route that yields low impurity content, with particularly low halide and water content. Iolyte-P2 is an excellent candidate for lithium-ion batteries and hybrid battery-capacitor devices using lithium-ion type cathodes. See the Iolyte-P2 data sheet and MSDS for additional details, including physical properties and specification.

  • The Iolyte-B family consists of electrolytes optimized for use in battery applications. Iolyte-B1 (EMIM FSI + proprietary additives) is currently under development.

  • The Iolyte-U family contains electrolytes optimized for use in ultracapacitors. Iolyte-U1 (EMIM TFSI + proprietary additives) is non-flammable, stable at high temperatures, and compatible with other cell components. When matched with the proper electrodes, Iolyte-U1 can enable operation at more than 3.5 V/cell, potentially doubling the ultracapacitor volumetric energy density compared to existing electrolytes operating at 2.5 to 2.7 V/cell. Iolyte-U1 works with existing filling equipment, is compatible with aluminum current collectors, and wets separators quickly. Low vapor pressure provides additional safety, both in manufacturing and in off-design conditions. Iolyte-U1 is currently under development.

Boulder Ionics will use this round of funding to further protect the company’s intellectual property, expand their team, and build a pilot production facility for electrochemical-grade ionic liquids.

Boulder Ionics’ patent-pending intellectual property covers novel reactor designs, methods of synthesis, synthetic routes and compositions of matter. The synthesis platform technology scales from kilograms to hundreds of metric tons, according to the company.

April 27, 2012 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack (0)

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Comments

Another step towards future high performance lower cost batteries.

Battery energy density could double every 5-6 years and cost could go down by 50% or more every 5-6 years. Evs range could then go from 100 miles in 2010 to 200 miles in 2015/2016 and 400 miles in 2020/2022 or so.

After 2020/2022, EVs purchase price could be close to ICEVs.

With operation cost less than half, EVs will replace most if not all ICEVs during the next two decades.

Historically these have been higher impedance and higher cost than traditional electrolytes. Obviously, industrial scale should lower cost. I haven't followed the developement of these closely enough to know whether they actually have higher conductivity now. I certainly could see these lowering cost in a number of applications, not necessarily in EV apps. though. Definitely the military applications because of the generally non-flammable nature of the ionic liquids.

Harvey, I would say that battery energy density will double in the next 5-6 years and cost will go down by 50% in the next 5-6 years. After that I am not sure, you can go back to using could at that point.

Sounds expensive, but if it increases voltage and thus energy plus reduces chances of combustion then it may be worth it.

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