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

Emeryville, CA

Recipient Location

9th

Senate District

15th

Assembly District

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$1,983,659

Amount Spent

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Active

Project Status

Projects Updates/The Results

In 2020, this project scoped, installed, and validated a roll-to-roll coating tool essential to demonstrating and de-risking low-rate initial production of the novel battery membrane product. Optimization of the roll-to-roll process has already unlocked a 60-fold increase in membrane production throughput alongside notable improvements in coating quality and batch-to-batch reproducibility. In-house validation of these membranes in lithium-metal cells designed for long-range and low-cost electric vehicles yielded promising results for safe lithium metal plating. Sample membranes produced with the roll-to-roll coating tool were successfully validated in energy-dense lithium metal cells with a commercial partner. In 2021, the project team will support the following priorities in the new year: additional customer testing, in-house optimization of membrane-enabled lithium-metal cells, and deepening understanding of unit economics at scale.

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 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, operate at elevated temperatures, and allows use of more abundant materials such as manganese instead of cobalt.

Project Benefits

The nanoporous membrane platform opens paths to safely increasing 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

Lower Costs

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 cost of Li-ion batteries that will also offer increased life, reliabili

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 addition skilled-labor workers by the end for the gr

Greater Reliability

Greater Reliability

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

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