A Breakthrough Super Battery TechnologyThe Problem
Why can't we use our iPhones for several days without charging, or drive our electric vehicles from Los Angeles to San Francisco without being stranded along the way due to a low battery? The answer comes down to storage capacity and cost.
A battery contains two major parts, a cathode and an anode, that function together as the positive and negative sides. Today's state-of-the-art lithium-ion battery is limited by the storage capacity of its cathode, while the anode can store much more. Additionally, the materials used in batteries are still quite expensive.
The Solution - A Low Cost Super Cathode Based on our patent-pending supercapacitor technology that uses a novel conductive polymer material, we are developing a high capacity Super Cathode for use by battery manufacturers to create the ultimate high capacity, low cost lithium-ion battery.
Our novel high capacity cathode is engineered from a polymer, similar to that of low-cost plastics used in the household. Through a smart chemical design, we are able to make the polymer hold an enormous amount of electrons. Instead of conventional cathodes that use lithium-ion intercalation chemistry, which is inherently slow, we exploit the fast redox-reaction properties of our polymer to enable rapid charge and discharge.
Most lithium-ion batteries cannot retain more than 80% of its storage capacity after 1,000 charge-discharge cycles. The stable redox chemistry of our cathode material can enable much longer life. Our laboratory experiments have shown that our cathode can easily cycle over 50,000 times without degradation in supercapacitors, and we believe that it can be very effective in batteries as well.
By enabling higher charge-discharge cycles, we can extend the life of lithium-ion batteries and further reduce the total cost of ownership. In certain applications such as off-grid solar energy storage where the batteries are fully charged and discharged daily, it is not cost-effective to use current lithium-ion batteries due to short replacement life.
We believe that by integrating our Super Cathode with conventional anodes, a complete lithium-ion battery can be built that is lower cost, higher capacity, faster charging and longer life.
Compatible with Existing Battery Manufacturing Process
Our novel cathode is compatible with current battery manufacturing processes. Conventional electrolytes and aluminum current collectors can be used. Therefore, today's battery manufacturers can simply replace the cathode fabrication process with the new BioSolar materials and processes.
Breaking the $100/kWh Cost Barrier to Mass Market Adoption
Materials account for more than 70% of the cost of a battery. In particular, the cathode material makes up 20-35% of the total materials costs. Therefore, lowering the cost of the cathode is an effective way to lowering the total battery cost. The estimated raw materials cost of our cathode is similar to that of inexpensive plastics, with a very high possible energy density of 1,000 Wh/kg.
Our Super Cathode can be used to manufacture a super battery that is 2 times higher capacity than the batteries currently used in a Tesla Model S, at 4 times less cost.
Processing materials and time are additional cost drivers. Our cathode can be processed from water and eco-friendly solvents, which (i) eliminates the use of costly and toxic solvents, (ii) eliminates high temperature drying processes, and (iii) speeds up the production throughput.
Many analysts in the electric vehicle and solar industry consider $100 per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to be the "holy grail" price threshold. In the case of electric vehicles, $100/kWh will make them undeniably cost-competitive with gas-powered vehicles. And in the case of solar, it will finally be cost effective to store daytime solar electricity for nighttime use and be less reliant on, or completely independent of, the power grid.
Our current estimate of the cost of a full battery using our Super Cathode with a conventional graphite anode is approximately $54/kWh.
Compared to Existing Batteries Based on internal experimental data, other published data, and a calculation model adopted from the Energy Laboratory of Samsung Electronics, we have estimated the energy density and energy costs of a complete super battery that uses our Super Cathode technology.
Intellectual Property BioSolar is currently funding a sponsored research program to further develop its super battery technology. The lead inventors of the technology are UCSB professor Dr. Alan Heeger, the recipient of a Nobel Prize in 2000 for the discovery and development of conductive polymers, and Dr. David Vonlanthen, a project scientist and energy storage expert at UCSB.