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CalBattery licenses Argonne silicon-graphene material for high-energy Li-ion batteries; targeting commercial availability in 2014

26 February 2013

The US Department of Energy’s (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) and California Lithium Battery, Inc. (CalBattery) have signed a licensing agreement for an Argonne-developed, silicon-graphene composite anode material for high-energy lithium batteries. CalBattery says it plans to move forward rapidly in the commercial scale-up and production of the novel composite anode material and to offer it in commercial production in the US by 2014.

CalBattery had earlier entered into a Work for Others (WFO) program with ANL to commercialize an advanced Li-ion battery combining ANL’s Si-graphene anode materials with other advanced battery materials into a Very Large Format (400+ Ah) prismatic cell targeting grid-scale storage and EV applications. CalBattery had an option for exclusive and non-exclusive rights to the ANL Si-graphene process. (Earlier post.)

In October 2012, CalBattery reported that independent test results in full cell Li-ion batteries (LIBs) showed that its silicon-graphene composite anode materials, used with advanced cathode and electrolyte materials, showed an energy density of 525 Wh/kg and specific anode capacity of 1,250 mAh/g. (Earlier post.)

The independent full cell tests cited by the company suggested increases in energy density by around 3 times and specific anode capacity by around 4 times over existing LIBs. Current commercial LIBs have an energy density of between 100-180 Wh/kg and a specific anode capacity of 325 mAh/g.

Argonne’s technology entails the use of an advanced gas phase deposition method that embeds nanoscale silicon particles into the graphene layers. This approach overcomes the traditional problems associated with high-energy density anodes, such as massive volume expansion, high first cycle inefficiency and severe capacity fade.

The use of the Argonne silicon graphene process stabilizes the use of silicon in the lithium battery anode. Although silicon absorbs lithium ten times better than any other anode materials it rapidly deteriorates during charge/discharge cycles.

CalBattery, a joint venture between California-based CALiB Power and Ionex Energy Storage Systems, is a portfolio start-up company headquartered at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), which was started by The City of LA and the LA Department of Water and Power in 2011.

February 26, 2013 in Batteries | Permalink | Comments (19) | TrackBack (0)

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"targeting commercial availability in 2014" means matching cathode, ..complete 3X battery available ___?

A 3x battery could have a net energy density between 400 Wh/Kg and 500 Wh/Kg. This could very well lead to the first generation of practical extended range BEVs in 2015/2016 or so.

A Tesla S-255 (kWh) with a range of 800+ miles between charge would become a possibility.

A Leaf could have 250+ miles e-range with a smaller 75+ kWh battery pack.

Ultra quick chargers capacity will also have to be increased by 300+%. A 255 kWh battery back may have to reconfigured as three 85 kWh packs during quick recharges.

Now this is the type of announcement I've been waiting to see. I'd rather see availability dates (and hopefully pricing is the next step) rather than more announcements of magic unicorn farts that will have us all driving EVs.

I assume that if they target anode availability in (late) 2014, then you'd see this in cars in 2016-17. Automakers like GM, Ford and Tesla would get samples in early 2015, and spend a year or two validating them for vehicle use (new chemistry = validation required; small changes to existing chemistries = little validation), and if they pass, they'd end up in '17 model cars in late 2016.

That said 400-500Wh/kg is a big deal now, but I think that will be the norm by then. Which is a good thing! =^) Small/Cheap EVs will be getting over 120 miles per charge, small crossovers/SUVs (the cars Americans seem to like the best) will have 120 mile range, but be a bit expensive still.

Maybe these anodes with sulfide cathodes can give us 2X capacity at a lower price. A LEAF that has 140 mile range at 70 miles per hour for $23,000 could change buying patterns.

The article and linked post does not state whether this license is exclusive or nonexclusive. I hope for the later, as I would not want the technology to be tied up by one party. Further, I suspect the magic now is not in the product but in the manufacturing which appears to necessarily involve 'gas phase deposition that embeds nanoscale silicon particles into the graphene layers' (and there may be more than one way to skin that cat).

@ AnthonyF:

Agree with you that using 3x improved batteries in model year 2017 vehicles would be a possibility.

Improved near future batteries will give 250 to 500+ miles between charges (within 5 years or so). When mass produced (xx million/year) the price of 350+ miles e-range BEVs will approach ICEV's and the transition will gain speed.

What is sad is that this may be the biggest announcement we've seen in our years of following this stuff, yet we're all so numb from the over-hyping that we barely even comment on this anymore. Imagine if we'd seen this press release and even half believed it back in 2010.

DaveD,

When graphene was first discovered, it may have sounded like a unicorn fart. Yet here we are with the (afaik) first really useful product.

Every new technology starts with the unicorn fart phase. I for one am very interested in unicorn farts, so I hope GCC isn't put off by your comments and keeps reporting about them. The technology development cycle is what it is, ridiculing it doesn't help.

@AnthonyF, HarveyD,

Availability in cars in 2017 sounds very, very optimistic to me.

As an example I would like to point to the writings of John Petersen. His opinion about EV's is ripe for the dustbin, however one interesting saga is his pet lead-acid company Axion Power. They have developed a better lead-acid battery, suitable for start-stop operation. Even he seems to be frustrated by the glacial pace at which global car manufacturers move when it comes to using these new batteries, announcing round after round of validation processes that take years to complete. And in an ICE, the battery is more of a secondary component. Even more careful will car companies be when it comes to EV's where the battery is the prime component.

Having said that, the only company I can envision putting this into their cars in 2017 is Tesla. They are not like ordinary car manufacturers and much more eager to adopt new technology and willing to take a bet. If the bet pays off, the benefits are huge.

Silicon as an anode material for Li-ion batteries has attracted a great deal of R&D attention due to its much higher theoretical storage capacity than the graphitic anode materials commonly used in Li-ion batteries (LIB).This will help in development for batteries.

I really hope this technology reduces the cost of residential electricity storage. Here in Australia the electricity distributors are totally gouging consumers. The price of electricity has gone from 15 cents per KWHr to over 26 cents per KWhr in 4 years!

Now that PV panels are cheap the next hurdle to country-wide deployment is residential storage. A factor of two reduction in the price of ~6000 cycle storage of 10 - 20 KWhr would see solar PV be totally mainstream here with no subsidies. ie Perfectly scalable.

That's a 20-50 billion dollar market in Australia alone!

CalBattery's website says the technology will reduce the cost per KWHr by up to 70%!

http://www.clbattery.com/

Well, nothing wrong with being ambitious :-)

Anne,
I wasn't ridiculing it. I was actually trying to stir things up a bit. To me this is really exciting and I am starting to feel like a decently priced, practical 200+ mile range car may exist by 2016-2017.

My comments were more towards all of us for not reacting and the only reason I could think of was that we're all not believing it anymore.

Anne:

Unfortunately, I have to agree with you that not too many car manufacturers are very currently eager to use improved batteries to produce extended range EVs. Their bread and butter are more efficient over sized heavy ICEVs. As you said, Tesla and a few Chinese car firms may be the exceptions.

The Boeing 787 affair (even if the problem may be more with wiring and installation defects than the batteries per se) is not helping new battery technologies.

More public financial assistance ($500+M) would be justified to Tesla to mass produce their new lower cost EVs, specially if these new batteries were used?

Another ($500+M) would be justified to mass produce these new batteries.

Would an International $1+T Fund for 5/5/5 storage unit development and mass production help? Wouldn't it be more useful than going to Mars?

Msevior:

Sunny Australia should be very interested in lower cost higher efficiency Solar panels and Storage units. Paying $0.26/kWh (26 cents/kWh) is shameful. Our Hydro power general flat 24/7 rate is a low 5.3 cents/kWh for the first 1000 kWh a month. The next 5000 kWh/month are at 6.2 cents/kWh. Even at that low rate, our sole Hydro power organisation makes $4 B/year profit, half is reinvested and the other half given as dividend to the government.

Et al:

This product/process is from a Government Lab, supported by Tax payer funding. There should be no licensing fee for using this IP. This information should be open to use by any U.S. company. Since when did Government Labs qualify as patent controllers?

Want to real speed up technology? Get rid of the idea of Government entities supporting themselves by selling Public property back to the people who invested the money in the first place.

It is no more public property than allowing loggers into nation parks because it is "their" park. National labs have always controlled their own patents. They are not there to provide free inventions for profit industries, that would be a subsidy at the expense of tax payers.

The majority may agree with SJC, specially for out-sourced manufacturers. Two tariff rates would also be justified, i.e. a lower rate for local firms and a much higher rate for out-sourced firms.

Royalties should be high enough to recovery most if not all the Government Labs cost.

Good Lord

All of these optimistic comments look like they have been copied and pasted from every other hyped announcement that has been put out there over the past 5 years. Don't you guys ever learn?

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