BioSolar extends agreement with UCSB for further development of novel polymer cathode; projecting up to 459 Wh/kg and $54/kWh for Li-ion cells
7 July 2015
Startup BioSolar, Inc. has signed an agreement to extend the funding of a sponsored research program at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), to further develop its “super battery” technology—a novel polymer cathode that leverages fast redox-reaction properties rather than conventional lithium-ion intercalation chemistry to enable rapid charge and discharge.
The lead inventors of the technology are UCSB professor Dr. Alan Heeger, the recipient of a Nobel Prize in 2000 for the discovery and development of conductive polymers, and Dr. David Vonlanthen, a project scientist and expert in energy storage at UCSB. Both are scientific advisors to BioSolar.
In a 2014 paper publishedin the journal Advanced Materials, Heeger, Vonlanthen and their colleagues reported the development of a polyaniline-supercapacitor with quinone electrolytes that remained stable over 50,000 galvanostatic charge-discharge cycles.
The work showed that highly stable polymer-supercapacitors can be engineered by combining electrochemically active polymers and redox-active electrolytes with concerted electrochemical properties.
BioSolar’s research program with UCSB started in July 2014 with a focus on low-cost and high performance materials and structures for supercapacitors and batteries. Based on the technical developments from the 2014 program, the BioSolar focused its efforts on developing what it calls a “super battery” technology.
Based on the company’s internal analysis, a battery built using its technology (BioSolar cathode/graphite anode) could deliver a capacity of 459 Wh/kg at a price of $54/kWh—e.g., doubling the range of a Tesla, and costing four times less.
This extension funds the research program for another 12 months until June 2016.
The BioSolar cathode can be processed from water and eco-friendly solvents, which (i) eliminates the use of costly and toxic solvents, (ii) eliminates high temperature drying processes, and (iii) speeds up the production throughput.
Further, the stable redox chemistry of the cathode material can enable much longer life. BioSolar said that since laboratory experiments have shown that the cathode can easily cycle more than 50,000 times without degradation in supercapacitors, it believed that cathode can offer very long life in batteries as well.
BioSolar recently jointly filed a patent application with UCSB to protect intellectual property rights which forms the basis for the company’s technology.
Vonlanthen, D., Lazarev, P., See, K. A., Wudl, F. and Heeger, A. J. (2014) “A Stable Polyaniline-Benzoquinone-Hydroquinone Supercapacitor,” Adv. Mater., 26: 5095–5100. doi: 10.1002/adma.201400966