Scaling Up Pilot Production of Nanoporous Membranes for Battery Storage Technologies

This project’s intent is to scale-up production of an advance battery membrane platform for market facilitation of safe, low-cost, and energy-dense batteries. The advancement to pilot low rate initial production will establish multiple market

Sepion Technologies, Inc.

Recipient

Recipient Location

9th

Senate District

15th

Assembly District

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$2,595,391

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Project Update

In 2021, the team closed an oversubscribed Series A, increased in-house pouch cell fabrication throughput 5-fold, and increased cell capacity by 75-fold with a prototyping partner. In addition, the team grew the coating team, hired a VP of Operations, and increased membrane coating throughput 2-fold.

In 2022, the team added a VP of Business Development to lead their strategic customer and partner engagements, while also improving their cell performance by another 250% to further validate its long-life, low-cost and fast-charge value proposition under EV-relevant testing.

In 2023, the team built out and moved in to its new prototyping facility, which is expected to enable a 100X increase in their polymer synthesis capability, 1000X increase in separator coating capacity, and an ability to make up to 10Ah Li-Metal battery cells in-house. The team continues to fulfill sample requests from major automotive OEMs, battery makers, and raw material suppliers worldwide.

The Issue

Batteries charged with clean renewable energy are poised to be the 21st century's zero-carbon solution to fossil fuel combustion, powering everything from electric vehicles to the electric grid. In order to remove barriers to large-scale adoption and meet the expected increased demand for EVs, battery life, range, and cost must be optimized. Current lithium batteries suffer from degradation over extended use periods, vulnerabilities to thermal runaway, and a dependence on rare-earth metals, such as cobalt, sourced from conflict ridden areas of the planet.

Project Innovation

The purpose of this project is to scale up the production of an advanced battery membrane platform for market facilitation of safe, low-cost, and energy-dense batteries. The proposed approach is to establish optimal processes for each key component of the innovative membrane (polymer, polymer ink, and roll-to-roll coating) to generate quality assurance and quality control metrics that will lead to an in-house low rate initial production of the membrane for batteries. The intent is to establish a steady commercialized platform technology that will create multiple market opportunities in a variety of battery chemistries. The innovative membrane, in addition to improving the cycle life of batteries, enables more energy to be extracted from the same cathodes used under previously abusive conditions; operation at elevated temperatures; and the use of more abundant materials such as manganese instead of cobalt.

Project Goals

Scale up production of battery membrane meeting the cost, conductivity, and lifetime targets required for EVs.

Project Benefits

The nanoporous membrane platform opens paths to safely increase Li-metal battery energy density by 40%, dropping the cost below $100/kWh while developing manufacturing capabilities for advanced battery components in California. This technology can be integrated with existing Li-metal battery manufacturing infrastructure to reduce barriers to market entry. Beyond Li-metal batteries, this platform membrane technology is already being leveraged to enable breakthroughs in Li-metal batteries for advanced electric vehicles with greater than 350 mile range and ultra-low-cost flow batteries for long-duration grid storage, multiplying the potential for impact.

Lower Costs

Affordability

The innovative membrane resulting from this project will allow the elimination of cobalt (the largest cost factor) and the use of cheaper materials to reduce the cost of Li-ion batteries while also offering increased life and reliability.

Economic Development

Economic Development

This start-up company has been able to increase their company growth and hire 3 more skilled-labor employees since the start of the grant. The company is anticipating hiring 35 additional skilled-labor workers by the end.

Greater Reliability

Reliability

The resulting membrane will reduce lifetime costs, increase durability, and boost energy density of Li-ion batteries for EVs and grid storage.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Peter Frischmann

CEO
Project Member

Josh Croft

Agreement Manager
California Energy Commission

Subrecipients

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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Ed Williams

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Randy Chan

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Spectrapower LLC

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Match Partners

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Argonne National Laboratory

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Sepion Technologies, Inc.

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CAMX Power

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Washington Clean Energy Testbeds

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Ambrosi Donahue Congdon Certified Public Accountant

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