Li-Metal Corp., a developer of lithium metal anode and lithium metal production technologies for next-generation batteries, announced the successful production of its first batch of ultra-thin lithium on metalized polymer anodes, a second-generation lithium metal anode technology.
At Li-Metal’s advanced anode pilot plant in Rochester, New York, the company has demonstrated its ability to leverage its roll-to-roll physical vapour deposition (PVD) anode technology and PVD equipment to produce its second-generation products at pilot scale.
Gen 1 product with industry standard deposition rates and cooling.
Li-Metal’s ultra-thin lithium on metalized polymer anodes are expected to reduce the need for copper in next-generation batteries anodes, resulting in improved costs by up to 25% and lighter weight batteries, while delivering improved gravimetric and volumetric energy densities. The company said that the capability to do this further demonstrates the flexibility of its scalable PVD anode technology and ability to customize its product offering.
Gen 2 product with upgraded deposition rates and cooling.
Li-Metal’s second-generation anode technology expands its ability to support current EV as well as prospective electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) and aviation customers focused on developing next-generation batteries.
The ability to apply lithium using PVD onto polymers or metalized polymers has been complex and Li-Metal’s accomplishment required significant process intensification, an important metric for PVD technologies, which further validates the advancement of its technology over the past several years. To achieve this milestone, the Li-Metal team also made significant improvements to its PVD technology and process, including web handling and cooling.
Currently, battery developers utilize lithium metal anodes that use 6-10 micron copper foils, on average, which results in energy densities of less than 400 Wh/kg. Next-generation battery developers, particularly those targeting the eVTOL and electric aviation markets, are seeking to produce batteries with more than 450 Wh/kg and energy density of more than 1000 Wh/kg.
Li-Metal’s second-generation anode products utilize metalized polymers with 0.5-1 micron copper, which enables the lightweighting of anodes and is expected to enable next-generation battery developers achieve their targeted battery performance metrics.
Metalized polymer product.
Li-Metal and Mustang Vacuum Systems , the company’s exclusive PVD machine building partner, plan to work together to produce the company’s second-generation products at commercial-scale. Li-Metal is also working with select customers to qualify its second-generation battery anode products and plans to begin sampling the material more broadly in 2024.
Li-Metal and MVS plan to jointly develop and operate the company’s first commercial-scale PVD machine at MVS’ facility in Florida, which is expected to be commissioned by mid 2024. Li-Metal’s first commercial-scale PVD machine aims to deliver between 1-2 million m2 of anode for use by several of its next generation battery developers working to get their B and C samples qualified.
In 2023 to-date at its advanced anode pilot plant in Rochester, New York, Li-Metal has produced more than 8,200 meters of sample lithium metal anode material for internal R&D and for customers leveraging its PVD technology. This throughput reflects almost two times the company’s total volume of sample material produced in all of 2022, or 4,200 meters.
In addition, Li-Metal has continued to execute with process performance and product quality by producing lithium metal anode products with lithium thickness between 3 and 20 micrometers. Li-Metal continues to expand its intellectual property portfolio with a total of 46 patent applications in process. In addition to the production of its first batch of second-generation anode products, Li-Metal continues to make ongoing improvements to its first-generation lithium metal on copper anode products.