A123 Venture Technologies, the R&D subsidiary of the mercurial manufacturer of EV batteries, has announced a strategic partnership with MIT startup SolidEnergy. SolidEnergy’s solid electrolyte technology enables the use of lithium metal anodes for high energy density batteries.
The new partnership combines SolidEnergy’s Solid Polymer Ionic Liquid (SPIL) electrolyte with the cell design and prototyping capabilities of A123. Founder Dr. Qichao Hu claims that SolidEnergy technology can potentially deliver energy densities of up to 800 Wh/kg – twice that of today’s state-of-the-art batteries.
The SolidEnergy prototype battery combines a Li(NiMnCo)O2 (NMC) cathode, the novel electrolyte, and a solid-polymer-coated lithium metal anode. The electrolyte combines ionic liquid and liquid polymer to provide both the safety and wide temperature capability required for advanced batteries, while the solid-polymer-coated lithium anode boosts energy density and cycle life.
The polymer and ionic liquid both have low vapor pressure and are safe up to 300 °C, according to SolidEnergy, while the solid polymer coating on the lithium metal anode prevents dendrite growth.
“So what’s wrong with batteries today?” asked Dr. Qichao Hu. “One is safety – they blow up. Second is energy density. They don’t last long enough.”
The companies expect to have test results ready for discussion with target customers in the latter part of 2014.