Tue, 30 October 2012 23:43
California Lithium Battery (CLB), a finalist in Department of Energy’s 2012 Start Up America’s Next Top Energy Innovator challenge, has announced the record-setting performance of its new lithium ion battery anode.
Called the “GEN3” the anode is a silicon graphene composite material engineered with Argonne National Laboratory (ANL) over the past eight months. Independent test results in full cell lithium ion batteries indicate the new GEN3 anode material, used with advanced cathode and electrolyte materials, increases energy density by a stunning 3 times and specific anode capacity by an astonishing 4 times over existing lithium ion batteries.
The new performance level comes from a new lithium battery anode material for use with advanced cathode and electrolyte materials. The press release performance characteristic quotes are an energy density of 525WH/Kg and specific anode capacity of 1,250mAh/g.
The performance quotes compare to today’s common commercial offerings at a density of between 100-180WH/kg and a specific anode capacity of 325mAh/g.
An understandably pumped CLB CEO, Phil Roberts, said, “This equates to more than a 300% improvement in lithium ion battery capacity and an estimated 70% reduction in lifetime cost for batteries used in consumer electronics, EVs, and grid-scale energy storage.” Taken as quoted, this would be a massive shift in electrical storage costs for the better.
The CLB business model is underway fast-tracking the commercialization of its GEN3 breakthrough battery anode material. Over the next two years the firm plans to produce and sell its silicon-graphene anode material to global battery and electric vehicle manufacturers and start U.S. based production of a limited quantity of specialized batteries for high-end applications.
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Roberts expounds with, “We believe that our new advanced silicon graphene anode composite material is so good in terms of specific capacity and extended cycle life that it will become a graphite anode ‘drop-in’ replacement material for anodes in most lithium ion batteries over the next 2-3 years.”
If that proves true – a revolution is at hand.
CLB thinks its transformational technology will change the way lithium ion battery power is produced, managed, and stored, especially if it can lead to lithium ion batteries being produced for under $175/kWh. The firm believes that could directly compete with the cost of energy from fossil fueled power generation. These two ideas will be exciting tests over time.
ANL’s Silicon Graphene Composite Graphic. Click image for the largest view. Image credit: Argonne National Laboratory.
Technically speaking the new GEN3 battery material’s foundation is the use of the breakthrough ANL silicon graphene process that stabilizes the use of silicon in a lithium battery anode. Although silicon absorbs lithium ten times better than any other anode materials it rapidly deteriorates during charge/discharge cycles. CLB has worked at ANL and other facilities over the past year to develop this new anode material to work in a full lithium ion battery cell with multiple cathode and electrolyte materials. It seems the research will take about a third of the silicon potential to commercialization now.
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The superior results of the development program at ANL leads CLB to believe that this advanced anode material could eventually replace conventional graphite based anode materials used in most lithium ion batteries manufactured today. This new composite anode material is suitable for use in combination with a variety of existing and new lithium ion batteries cathode and electrolyte materials that will help dramatically improve overall battery performance and lower the lithium ion batteries cycle cost.
The firm’s press release asserts the cost cycle will effectively store electricity at a cost competitive with energy produced from fossil fuels. Its implied pretty clearly within the context of the press release that competition to gasoline for internal combustion engines is just what the company means.
On the business front the interest is in the success of CLB, a joint venture between California-based CALiB Power and Ionex Energy Storage Systems, as a portfolio start-up company headquartered at the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator that was started by The City of Los Angeles and the LA Department of Water and Power in just the last year. CLB naturally plans to set up silicon graphene anode material and lithium ion battery manufacturing operations in the Los Angeles area. How the manufacturing plan proceeds will be based on interest in its advanced Li-ion battery material from U.S. and international customers.
If it all works out we should be seeing GEN3 battery offerings pretty soon. One hopes so, if only to cut costs and reduce weights of the personal electronics. It will take a while longer to crack the electric vehicle market – but the cost projections are very enticing.
By. Brian Westenhaus
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