A Novel Electrode Architecture Enabling Low-Cost, High-Energy Automotive Lithium-Ion Batteries

Period of Performance: 06/12/2017 - 03/11/2018

$150K

Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Saratoga Energy Reseach Partners
820 Heinz Avenue Array
Berkeley, CA 94720
Firm POC, Principal Investigator

Abstract

Saratoga Energy, a start-up company located in Berkeley, California, is developing a breakthrough electrolysis process to manufacture low-cost carbon nanotubes (CNTs) from carbon dioxide. CNTs provide an exceptional array of properties that enable the fabrication low-cost, high-energy lithium-ion batteries thus addressing the driving range limitations of electric vehicles. The global market size for CNTs was estimated to be $2.26 billion in 2015 making this an attractive opportunity. In the work conducted thus far, Saratoga Energy has established that its synthesis process could potentially be 90 times less energy intensive than the state-of-the-art (CCVD) and the company has potential to manufacture CNTs for under $5/kg - 100X cheaper than the current market price for CNTs. Lithium-ion batteries using Saratoga Energy CNTs have up to 20% higher volumetric and specific energy which translates to extended driving range of electric vehicles, or smaller, less expensive battery packs. Thus, as the project succeeds, it will provide two essential contributions that are fully aligned with the mission of the DOE Vehicle Technologies Office: contributing to reducing the cost of electric vehicles and dramatically improving driving range. In Phase I of this SBIR project, two tasks will be addressed. The first objective will be to produce a masterbatch of CNT material and optimize its dispersion properties. The second objective will be to fabricate high areal capacity anodes with the aid of the companies CNTs and demonstrate high performance on 250 mAh lithium-ion full cells paired with NMC cathodes. In Phase II, the project will aim at demonstrating the feasibility of the synthesis process at a small pilot scale, paving the way for further customer sampling and qualification, as well as providing necessary process data for a semi-works plant design. In parallel, the long-term cycling stability, cycling efficiency, as well as abuse resistance of lithium-ion batteries constructed with Saratoga Energy’s CNTs will be demonstrated on larger 2 Ah cells. The societal and public benefits are directly derived from the features of Saratoga Energy CNTs. Lower cost, improved energy density, and rate capability will contribute to greater customer acceptance of electric vehicles - helping the deployment of clean energy technologies. As an added benefit, the companies CNTs are made from carbon dioxide, and if produced from renewable electricity, would have a negligible carbon footprint.