ActaCell, Inc., a spin-off from the University of Texas at Austin, has secured $5.8 million in Series A financing. DFJ Mercury led the round with syndicate investment from Google.org’s RechargeIT program, Applied Ventures, LLC, the venture capital arm of Applied Materials, Inc. and Good Energies, a global investor in the renewable energy and energy efficiency industry.
ActaCell, Inc. is commercializing lithium-ion battery technology developed in Professor Arumugam Manthiram’s Material Science and Engineering lab at The University of Texas at Austin. This new technology is focused on delivering substantially longer cycle life at low cost while maintaining safety as the number one priority.
We were highly impressed with ActaCell’s pedigree. We believe their technology will significantly impact industries that rely on rechargeable batteries, particularly those that require high power and long cycle life such as Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. Low cost, long life and safety are key attributes of ActaCell’s battery roadmap, the holy grail of battery technologies on the market today.—Ned Hill, managing director at DFJ Mercury
Still in the development phase, ActaCell’s technology has not been publicly disclosed. Full product and technology announcements will follow in early 2009.
Professor Manthiram’s lab at UT is developing low-cost, high-power cathode materials for HEVs and PHEVs, and nanostructured anode materials for portable and transportation applications. The group is pursuing stabilized spinel, nano olivines, and complex layered oxide cathodes as well as nanocomposite alloy anodes to enable next-generation lithium-ion battery technology.
Among the recent work reported is the synthesis of olivine LiFePO4 nanorods by a rapid microwave-solvothermal approach. The resulting LiFePO4 nanorods were subsequently encapsulated within a mixed electronically and ionically conducting p-toluene sulfonic acid (p-TSA) doped poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT) at ambient-temperatures to obtain an organic–inorganic nanohybrid. The LiFePO4–PEDOT nanohybrid offers discharge capacity (166 mAh/g)—close to the theoretical value (170 mAh/g)—with excellent capacity retention and rate capability, reducing significantly the manufacturing cost, according to the researchers.
The company says the proceeds from the Series A financing will be used to hire key technical talent and to further develop its lithium-ion battery technology for commercial purposes.
A. Vadivel Murugana, T. Muraligantha and A. Manthiram (2008) Rapid microwave-solvothermal synthesis of phospho-olivine nanorods and their coating with a mixed conducting polymer for lithium ion batteries. Electrochemistry Communications Volume 10, Issue 6, June 2008, Pages 903-906 doi: 10.1016/j.elecom.2008.04.004
T. A. Arunkumar, E. Alvarez and A. Manthiram (2008) Chemical and structural instability of the chemically delithiated (1 – z) Li[Li1/3Mn2/3]O2·(z) Li[Co1–yNiy]O2 (0≤y≤1 and 0≤z≤1) solid solution cathodes. J. Mater. Chem., 2008, 18, 190 - 198, doi: 10.1039/b713326j