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Stable-State Batteries: ‘Success Is determined by Manufacturability’

ION Storage Techniques is a Maryland-based firm growing high-energy-density solid-state lithium metallic batteries. Stable-state batteries (SSBs), in distinction to conventional lithium-ion batteries, provide enhanced stability of their chemistry, improved security options, and the potential for increased power density.

So why isn’t the market awash in SSBs already? The problem in realizing the advantages of those superior batteries has largely been in scaling manufacturing. A giant a part of that problem comes from the difficulties in sourcing the required supplies.

ION has addressed the sourcing drawback partly with a lately signed multi-year provide settlement with international ceramic supplies merchandise provider Saint-Gobain Ceramics. With that partnership in place, ION expects to realize vital scale throughout the subsequent 2–3 years.

However different challenges stay. We requested ION Storage Techniques CEO Ricky Hanna to stroll us by the corporate’s solid-state journey.

What made you resolve to decide to solid-state batteries?

ION Storage Techniques CEO Ricky Hanna: After ending my time as Government Director of Battery Operations at Apple, and after seeing a few of our rivals take care of the fallout of needlessly flammable batteries, I made a decision to focus my profession on discovering a high-energy and protected battery. In the end, I used to be drawn to solid-state batteries due to their extra steady chemistry. Stable-state batteries are safer and allow a better power density. In my expertise manufacturing billions of batteries over 20 years, these attributes are a successful mixture. Stable-state batteries have the potential to rework all market segments of electrification.

Why haven’t we seen solid-state batteries being mass-produced?

Hanna: “To me, concepts are nothing except executed. They’re only a multiplier. Execution is value tens of millions,” Steve Jobs as soon as mentioned. I feel it applies to our business greater than ever given the calls for of electrification. There are numerous novel battery applied sciences; only a few will show to be transformational. Their success relies on manufacturability.

I traveled world wide visiting solid-state battery startups. In lots of instances, their lab-produced prototypes dramatically outperform conventional lithium-ion batteries. These corporations have excited potential clients and buyers elevating billions of {dollars} to deliver their applied sciences to market. Nonetheless, regardless of these large investments pouring in from personal and public sources, solid-state batteries usually are not but deployed in any main industrial merchandise.

The reason being easy: there’s a massive distinction between producing a couple of breakthrough battery cells in a lab and producing tens of millions of those cells reliably, repeatedly, and with constant high quality on daily basis. We are able to solely speed up the transition to an electrified world once we overcome the obstacles in direction of the TWh scale manufacturing of solid-state batteries.

How is ION addressing these challenges?

Hanna: About half of the group at ION is targeted on technological innovation whereas the opposite half is totally devoted to manufacturing. We are able to’t innovate with out first executing a plan to fabricate our answer. And that’s the most important mistake battery corporations fall into. I do know from expertise that manufacturability is the essential part of success past lab prototypes. I’ve seen far too many battery corporations ‘excellent’ their attention-grabbing know-how earlier than even contemplating manufacturing.

At ION, we plan for fulfillment with a method based mostly on two elementary rules. Manufacturability is a efficiency metric similar to power density, security, working temperatures, cost occasions, pack integration wants, or value of our battery cells. Secondly, we have now dedicated to by no means compromise one metric for one more.

We designed our superior solid-state battery cells with manufacturability in thoughts – utilizing available supplies together with ceramics. Many battery innovators use ceramics. That is smart. Ceramics provide varied benefits. They’re non-flammable, extremely conductive, can resist excessive temperatures, and are product of low-cost supplies that needn’t be mined in environmentally and socially difficult circumstances.

How do some great benefits of ceramics translate into success on your battery?

Hanna: Humanity has used ceramics for 1000’s of years. Right now, their manufacturing is more and more industrialized. Ceramics usually are not simply used for plates and pots. They’re utilized in aerospace to switch heavier metals. They supply the warmth shields to guard astronauts on re-entry into the environment. Ceramics are even on the core of the chips that allow digital units from computer systems to cell phones.

Earlier than our first lab was ever opened, we made a acutely aware choice to undertake industrialized, high-volume manufacturing methods from different industries as the inspiration for making our first battery prototypes. We’re collaborating with corporations which have centuries of expertise constructed on generations of optimizing and scaling the identical manufacturing methods we make use of at a smaller degree.

This technique presents us entry to manufacturing high quality and consistency that no startup can ship. We be sure that each step we absorb our prototype manufacturing unit is scalable with these companions. This method makes positive that our innovation may be built-in into their large-scale, examined manufacturing techniques.

What’s subsequent for ION’s solid-state batteries?

Hanna: We’re engaged on battery innovation that may permit for transformational enhancements in a world that may develop into more and more electrified. However that begins with how we manufacture our product—through the use of as many “off the shelf” parts as doable. This premeditated design selection permits us to include present—commoditized—parts and meeting methods which might be already out there in excessive volumes and of top of the range. Our method additionally permits us to make use of essentially the most cutting-edge supplies out there immediately akin to high-energy-density cathodes.

We consider that our technique presents essentially the most practical complete plan contemplating provide chain, manufacturing, cell efficiency, and buyer product integration. A lot of the manufacturing processes we have now adopted exist already at scale. We’re launching a novel know-how utilizing established and examined industrial processes with proficient engineers who all the time have mass-scale high quality manufacturing on their minds. Execution is certainly value tens of millions on the trail towards the widespread adoption and electrification folks and the planet are ready for.

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