Semisolid innovation trims lithium-ion battery costs by 50 percent
24M’s semisolid lithium-ion cell combines an overhaul in battery cell design with a series of manufacturing innovations that, when fully implemented, will cut today’s lithium-ion costs by 50% while improving the performance of lithium-ion batteries.
Until now, the energy storage field has had two options to try to drive down costs – build massive and complex factories to produce lithium-ion batteries in high volumes or pursue entirely new chemistries that may never move from the lab to the commercial floor. With the invention of the semisolid lithium-ion battery, 24M is aiming to present a third option – work with the world’s preferred energy storage chemistry and unlock new opportunities for cost reductions through new cell design and manufacturing innovations.
“The lithium-ion battery is a brilliant, enabling technology, but its economics are flawed. It’s prohibitively expensive; it’s cumbersome and inefficient to make; and today’s version is approaching the limits of its cost reductions,” said Dr. Yet-Ming Chiang, 24M’s Chief Scientist. “24M has fixed the flaws. We’ve made the world’s favorite battery better, fundamentally changing its cost curve by designing a more elegant and simpler cell and then making the batteries the right way – the way they should have been made from day one.”
24M’s cell design is made possible by the semisolid thick electrode – a material science innovation that originated in Dr. Chiang’s lab at MIT. Conventional lithium-ion battery cells have a large fraction of inactive, non-charge carrying materials – supporting metals and plastics – that are layered, one-on-top of the other, within a cell’s casing. Those inactive materials are expensive and wasteful. With the invention of the semisolid thick electrode, 24M eliminates more than 80% of the inactive materials and increases the active layer thickness over traditional lithium-ion by up to 5x. Using thick electrodes, the cell also stores more energy, bettering the performance of the battery as well as its cost.
The simplicity of 24M’s cell design enables a simplified advanced manufacturing process. The traditional method for making lithium-ion batteries takes days, is capital-intensive and must run at high-volume to achieve economies of scale. 24M’s novel approach to manufacturing yields improvements.
“We give the architects of our energy future everything they love about lithium-ion at a cost they love too,” said Throop Wilder, 24M’s CEO. “Together, our inventions achieve what lithium-ion has yet to do – meet the ultra-low cost targets of the grid and transportation industries. By 2020 our battery costs will be less than $100 a kWh. We’re emerging at the right time with the right technology.”
Since its founding in 2010, 24M has raised $50 million in private capital, closing Series A and B rounds, from Charles River Ventures, North Bridge Venture Partners and industrial partners. The company is also the recipient of a $4.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. 24M’s cells are currently undergoing customer trials with large, global integrators of power systems for the grid. The company now employs more than 50 people and runs a fully automated manufacturing line from its 32,000 square foot facility in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
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