As a Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary who pushed hard for plug-in vehicles, it seems only natural that Dr. Steven Chu would eventually hook up with a technology company in that sector once he left his government position. Well, now he has. Battery maker Amprius has announced that the Nobel Laureate has joined the its board.

Amprius battery cellThe company now manufactures a lithium battery for cell phones that uses a silicon nanowire anode developed by co-founder Dr. Yi Cui. It plans to use its technology to power electric vehicles in the future and claims its high-energy, high-capacity chemistry is capable of holding 650 watt-hours within the space of a liter (650 Wh/l).

That would seem to put the technology up there among the better batteries, at least with respect to volumetric density, but it's still difficult to judge overall without knowing how it meets other metrics, such as cycle life, gravametric density – the most frequently-used measure, and cost.

Still, it seems the company's current tech and future potential has been impressive enough to attract not only Dr. Chu, but also, recently, $30 million in Series C funding. In addition, the company boasts on its website that it's been backed by a plethora of venture capital firms and the likes of Google Chairman Eric Schmidt. Scroll below for more crowing over this board appointment in the official press release.
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Former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu Joins Board of Battery Company Amprius

SUNNYVALE, Calif. and NANJING, China – Dr. Steven Chu, a Nobel Laureate and the former Secretary of Energy, has joined the Board of Directors of Amprius, a leading manufacturer and developer of high energy and high capacity lithium-ion batteries.

"Higher-energy and longer-lasting batteries are in high demand for numerous applications, from consumer electronics to electric transportation," said Dr. Chu. "Amprius has exciting technology and strong scientific and commercial leadership. I look forward to advising Amprius' development of silicon-based anodes, advanced cathodes, and next-generation batteries."

Amprius recently announced that it had received an additional $30M in funding. Amprius will use Series C funds for research into advanced technologies, development of next-generation batteries, and commercialization of high energy and high capacity solutions for customers worldwide.

"Amprius is currently sampling and selling high-energy density batteries," said Amprius CEO Kang Sun. "We are delighted that former Energy Secretary Steven Chu is joining Amprius' Board of Directors. Dr. Chu is a world-renowned scientist and leader whose ideas and experience will help Amprius accelerate the development of even higher-energy batteries."

"Dr. Chu will bring incredible intellectual horsepower, vision, and experience to Amprius. I am thrilled to have him on board," said Dr. Yi Cui, Amprius Co-Founder, Board Member, and Stanford University Professor.

About Amprius

Amprius is a leading manufacturer and developer of high energy and high capacity lithium-ion batteries. The company maintains an R&D lab and corporate headquarters in Sunnyvale, California and operates an R&D lab and state-of-the-art pilot production line for advanced battery development in Nanjing, China. Amprius' investors include Trident Capital, VantagePoint Capital Partners, IPV Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Chinergy Capital, SAIF Partners, Google Chairman Dr. Eric Schmidt, and Stanford University.

About Dr. Steven Chu

Dr. Steven Chu is the William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Physics and Professor of Molecular and Cellular Physiology at Stanford University. From January 2009 until April 2013, he served as the U.S. Secretary of Energy. Before joining the Obama Administration, Dr. Chu was the Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and a Professor of Molecular and Cellular Biology at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Chu won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997, while he was the Theodore and Francis Geballe Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Stanford University.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      Letstakeawalk
      • 1 Year Ago
      This thread needs more batteries in boiling oil. http://www.liveleak.com/view?i=f7e_1390481461
      electric-car-insider
      It's not the current generation of Amprius cells that are notable, it is the next generation that use silicon nano wires, which cycle without as much degradation. They have already been demonstrated in the lab of Dtanford University Yi Cui, also the founder of Amprius. If Amprius can find a cost effective manufacturing technique, the cells will be a game changer. The appointment of Nobel prize winning former Bell Labs researcher Steven Chu the their board, and a $30 million cash infusion is a very promising sign that things are proceeding as planned.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      Okay; what matters to me not is that the DOE is funding them, but that private industry is also throwing some $$$ their way too. That's a good sign. Watt hours per liter alone means very little. I hunted on google for a while and cannot find any other spec or info at all, so it can't really be compared to other batteries yet.
      Edge
      • 1 Year Ago
      Argh they use silicon in their anode! So many companies are working on trying to solve the problem of silicon expansion degrading the battery overtime, that I'm beginning to think, the laws of physics on this one is just too hard to over come. I've seen articles saying they provide a 20 to 25 percent increase with their silicon nanotube anode over current lithium batteries, but degrades to 80% after 500 cycles. I guess, it should be OK for cell phones, when we replace them every few years anyway, but I not sure if that is acceptable for EV's, especially if the cost is more over current tech. I wonder if all this research into silicon lithium batteries is being wasted, when maybe they should concentrate on finding another element combination that has better future potential.
        2 wheeled menace
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Edge
        500 cycles on a really, really, really huge battery is actually not bad at all. Let's say for example, that you have one of these 500 cycle batteries, and the range of the car over the first 500 cycles 300 miles. ( it starts out at 340 miles and ends at 240 miles, let's say ) 500 cycles x 300 miles = 150,000 miles. As for the rest of the battery degredation curve, that means that you could hobble along with a 240-160 mile range for probably another 100,000-200,000 miles. If the battery can be operable for over 300,000 miles, it has already outlasted a gasoline engine powertrain all by itself. So yeah, if you have a super huge battery, you don't have to be so concerned about cycle life. 1,000 cycles to 80% would be a lot more ideal, though. The battery would outlast the chassis of the car!
          2 wheeled menace
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Yup, price is one critical figure in the equation; then c rate, then weather resistance, cycle life degradation, nominal voltage, watt hours per kg, i could go on... :p
          Edge
          • 1 Year Ago
          @2 wheeled menace
          Problem is, we don't know the price for their battery. Those silicon nanotubes sound expensive to me.
      2 wheeled menace
      • 1 Year Ago
      P.s. these batteries are 20-25% better than what? I looked up the spec on the current highest density Panasonic cell, the NCR18650B, and it's whr/kg is 243, whr/l is 676. So, Panasonic's cell, just in terms of volumetric and weight density, is a few percent better than this new wonder battery. Does their battery have any advantage over Panasonic's, in terms of other critical specs? if so, they are awfully quiet about it... ;)
        Edge
        • 1 Year Ago
        @2 wheeled menace
        Good point. The Japanese/Korean manufactures are not standing still. They are continually making small improvements to their batteries, and have the advantage of world class manufacturing facilities, and a strong legacy of producing good batteries. No wonder GM/Tesla are going with those countries batteries.
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