Austin, Texas-based startup Group1 boasts a star-studded executive suite. Chief Product Officer Dr. Leigang Xue invented Potassium Prussian White (KPW) cathode materials in 2017 at the laboratory of the legendary John B. Goodenough at the University of Texas. The company, which made its debut at Professor Goodenough’s 100th birthday celebration, is working to commercialize cathode materials for novel potassium-ion batteries.
The company says potassium-ion batteries (KIBs) offer charging speed, efficiency and safety advantages over lithium-ion batteries (LIBs, if you must), and it’s using a machine learning-driven process to optimize KIB production.
“Industry adoption of Group1’s KPW cathode materials will be accelerated because of the materials’ fit with existing graphite anode materials, electrolytes, cell design, and manufacturing for lithium-ion batteries,” says the company. “This means that LIB manufacturers do not need to change their existing infrastructure, as it can already be used to produce KIBs that are enabled by KPW cathode materials.”
Group1 says its KPW cathode materials offer several advantages over other lithium alternatives. The raw materials used by Group1 to create KIBs are widely available both in the US and internationally. Group says the potassium used in KPW cathode materials is 1,000 times more abundant in the earth than lithium, and 20 times more affordable. Group1 also uses other abundant, domestically-available minerals.
Group1 says its KIBs will deliver safety benefits over LIBs based on the use of safer electrolytes and oxygen-free materials. They’re also more efficient and faster-charging, as potassium ions in electrolytes have a smaller size and higher mobility compared to lithium ions.
“The demand for lithium-ion batteries is spiking quickly, and our lithium supplies will soon be incapable of meeting that demand,” said Group1 CEO Alexander Girau. “Potassium-ion batteries can provide a viable alternative to bridge this supply gap. We are proud to be the first company on the market commercializing potassium Prussian White cathode materials to create safer, quickly charging, more efficient and sustainable potassium-ion batteries.”