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Battery start-up Theion unveils Li-S “Crystal Battery” for mobile applications

Berlin-based Theion, a developer of lithium-sulfur cathode technology, appointed Dr. Ulrich Ehmes as CEO and announced the upcoming commercial availability of its Crystal Battery for applications, beginning with the aerospace sector. Dr. Ehmes, who has a long track record of industrializing battery production at companies such as Leclanché, will lead the commercialization of Theion’s innovative lithium-sulfur cathode technology, which is targeting triple the range and usage time compared to conventional lithium-ion cells.

Dr. Ehmes also serves on the Board of major battery research clusters funded by the German Ministry of Research and Education, and is a member of European and German battery associations.

I joined Theion because I am convinced that selecting the right battery active materials and processing these materials in a way that best leverages the material’s storage property, will disrupt the battery industry to another level. With 16 patents pending, our process innovations are scalable, and will bring a new dimension of mobility, range, usage time and sustainability.

—Dr. Ulrich Ehmes, Theion CEO

Theion’s patented production process combines sulfur’s crystal material properties with carbon nanotubes and a proprietary solid electrolyte. Theion grows a pure sulfur wafer by a Direct Crystal Imprinting (DCi) method (no slurry coating, no solvents, no water, no drying) directly from molten sulfur in a few seconds. Because of the flexibility of the process, the company can grow any geometrical shape of wafer adapted to a customer’s product shape; Theion suggests a hexagonal shape for space-efficiency reasons.

Theion removes nearly all volumetric fluctuation of sulfur at wafer level by a special conversion process; the cathode is able to work at low porosity. By adding conductive paths, the company maximizes the use of the active material to achieve a high energy density.

A proprietary solid-state polymer electrolyte operates in the voids of the sulfur wafer. In Gen 1 and Gen 2 Crystal cells, Theion will use lithium metal foil as anodes. Further anode designs are in the company’s Technology Roadmap (up to Gen 4).

The battery technology is compatible with a bipolar cell arrangement to maximize energy and power content. The cell stack is then assembled into a housing which geometrically best fits the customer’s application to maximize module-pack-system energy content.

Targeted performances are:

  • Gravimetric energy density ≥ 1, 000 Wh/kg (Gen 4)

  • Volumetric energy density ≥ 1,500 Wh/l

  • Power capability ≈ 12.000 W/kg

  • Cycle life ≥ 1,000 at 1 C

  • Operational temperature -20 °C to 60 °C

The company will be shipping material later this year, first to aerospace customers, as part of the qualification stage, then aircraft, air taxis, drones, mobile phones and laptops, before servicing the electric flight and automotive sectors in 2024.

Theion operates three locations within Berlin, specializing in cell design, prototyping and testing. Theion is expanding by adding manufacturing facilities to accelerate its mass production roadmap, beginning in Berlin. Locations for later gigafactories are not determined yet, but will be located close to the customers. Thus, production sites are envisioned In Europe, Asia and the US.

Comments

Gryf

Are we getting close to a commercial Li-S battery?
Can the Theion Direct Crystal Imprinting (DCi) method work with the Drexel U. Gamma Sulfur(https://www.nature.com/articles/s42004-022-00626-2)?
Can you make it “Anode Free” with the QuantumScape ceramic separator (their battery uses a Gel Polymer Electrolyte)?

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