University of Central Florida Researchers Verify Aspects of Planar Energy’s Solid-state Battery Approach; Potential for Half the Cost and Triple the Energy Density of Current Li-ion Cells
Researchers at the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Advanced Materials Processing and Analysis Center (AMPAC) have verified findings by Planar Energy that could lead to significant cost and performance improvements in large format batteries for practical electric vehicles, according to the company.
Planar Energy, a developer of large-format, solid-state batteries, was co-founded by M. Scott Faris, a serial entrepreneur, and Battelle Ventures in 2007 as a spin-out of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Planar’s products are based upon a portfolio of patents in the areas of materials deposition, new materials and battery design technologies.
More specifically, Planar Energy’s has developed a new generation of inorganic solid state electrolyte and electrode materials along with a proprietary manufacturing process (Streaming Protocol for Electroless Electrochemical Deposition, or SPEED).
SPEED is a low-cost, high-speed, roll-to-roll deposition process, which is significantly more flexible and scalable than existing deposition methods, according to Planar. SPEED eliminates the need for costly and time-consuming vacuum deposition usually required for inorganic films. It also produces energy storage films that are significantly superior to slurry and polymer-based films used in traditional chemical batteries, Planar says.Using water-based precursors, SPEED allows for the direct growth of self-assembled films directly on flexible substrates or directly on top of other films. Film growth is done under ambient conditions and with growth rates exceeding 1 micron/minute over large surface areas. SPEED-deposited films can range from single element films or complex inorganic chemistries with excellent stoichiometry. The SPEED process is compatible with a large array of known compound materials systems and it enables entirely new compound materials not achievable in vacuum or slurry-coating processes. As an example, Planar Energy’s proprietary electrolytes are based upon unique chemistries that cannot be achieved in vacuum deposition.
The company, which is showcasing its technology at the Department of Energy ARPA-E symposium in Washington this week, claims that its proprietary methodology will produce batteries that are superior to existing lithium-ion cells at less than half the cost per kilowatt-hour and with three times the energy density.
Members of Planar Energy’s research team conducted early work in solutions-based materials deposition at the former Bell Labs research center in Orlando, work that was continued at UCF focused in the field of low-cost solar films. Planar Energy has been working with UCF researchers on two Florida High Tech Corridor Council (FHTCC) matching grants to develop its technology.
We recognized the potential for making better batteries and funded additional research for energy-storage materials. The underlying technology that enabled our materials breakthrough allows for the direct printing and growth of self-assembling films. Our technology overcomes the key technical barriers that have rendered solution-based processing impractical.
Our partnership with UCF and the FHTCC has enabled us to validate what our team at Planar Energy had previously concluded: that we can cut the cost of manufacturing a battery by 75 percent while creating efficiency and storage-capacity improvements two or three times greater than conventional processes, most notably those involving lithium-ion.
—Scott Faris, president and CEO of Planar Energy
Test results. Following are highlights of key test results from UCF released by Planar:
Planar Energy has identified a new class of solid-state electrolytes that have conductivity of 10-4 in measured samples and 10-3 in functional battery calculations. The conductivity ranges displayed allow for high-rate batteries required in automotive applications.
Planar Energy’s solid state electrolyte materials are deposited as thin films directly on active layers in the battery, eliminating the historic process of having to deposit films on separate substrates and then mechanically joining them.
Planar Energy’s electrolytes demonstrate the same performance level of liquid electrolytes currently used by the lithium-ion industry, but they are in a solid form factor.
Planar Energy’s change in form factor simplifies the battery manufacturing process and enables existing battery chemistries to function at 95% of their theoretical value.
Planar Energy’s batteries will be intrinsically safe, allowing customers to further reduce packaging requirements, as well as simplify the battery management system.
Planar Energy’s batteries have virtually no self discharge, allowing them to sit for long periods of time while retaining their charge. Traditional lithium-ion batteries have high discharge rates that are problematic for automotive applications.