Every now and then, we hear a little bit more information from the Michigan battery company Sakti3, which is somewhat secretly working on advanced solid state lithium batteries. In March, for example, the company was named an affiliate of the US Department of Energy's Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR). This week, according to GigaOM, Sakti3's founder Ann Marie Sastry announced that its solid state li-ion battery will be able to double the range of an electric car (or, make things like cell phones last twice as long between charges). If applied to a vehicle like the Tesla Model S, that would mean 480 miles on one charge. This should permanently remove the phrase "range anxiety" from our vocabulary, shouldn't it?
Even more interesting is the claim that Sakti3 believes these batteries could be had for just $100 per kWh, well under not only today's costs but also the predictions others have made for the near future. Of course, the batteries are not here yet, but the company says its test packs were made on "fully scalable equipment," implying that the time to put up or shut up should be here soon, don't you think?
Another bit of news, if we can call it that, is a video that is supposed to show what happens when you drop hot soldering material onto one of the Sakti3 cells: basically, nothing and the cell continues to work safely. Note, though, that the title of the video is "Please DO NOT try this with your own battery!" which is just good advice. Watch the audio-free clip below.
Despite the relatively low profile, Sakti3 has been able to get investment attention. The company got $4.2 million from GM Ventures and Itochu in 2010 and $2.5 million from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. in 2008, for example. In total, Sakti3 has received over $30 million for its better-battery tech. We're ready for the cars any time now.
Ann Arbor, Michigan –August 20, 2014 – Sakti3, Inc. (www.sakti3.com) announced that it has produced a battery cell on fully scalable equipment with over 1100 Watt hours per liter (Wh/l) in volumetric energy density. This translates to more than double the usage time in a wearable device like a smartwatch, from 3.5 h to more than 9 h. It also translates to almost double the range in an EV like the Tesla Model S, from 256 mi to 480 mi.
"It's clearly a breakthrough – it's a world's best, made on a mass-production platform," said Professor Wei Lu from the University of Michigan, a battery expert knowledgeable about the process. "It's not either/or in cost and performance in batteries anymore – Sakti3 has both. They built a really high performance device on a really low cost platform – like building millions of high end processors in a factory that produces ordinary plastic wrap. It was quite a scientific feat."
Sakti3 reports that it demonstrated over 1000 Wh/l over two years ago, and has since moved to a pilot tool, using all scalable materials and equipment. The technology development was guided by mathematical simulations, starting with materials, and continuing to full scale plant layout to avoid any high cost materials, equipment or processes.
Along with having an ultra-low cost solution, the battery cells are also the safest ever demonstrated because of the all-solid-state construction and materials in the cells. Sakti3 has released a video (http://youtu.be/ICQcj73dMgI) demonstrating an abuse test in which hot solder is dropped into the cycling cell – and it continues to operate normally.
"Our target is to achieve mass production of cells at ~$100/kWh," said Dr. Ann Marie Sastry, CEO of Sakti3. "Our key patents on the technology have been issued, we are up and running on larger tooling, and can now speed up processing. Our first market will be consumer electronics, and after that, we'll move to other sectors."
Sakti3 is commercializing a breakthrough, high performance, low cost and intrinsically safe solid state battery technology. The materials, device designs and manufacturing methodologies were selected and optimized using advanced computational modeling, and lockstep, small-scale prototyping. The company is now scaling its prototypes in pilot production.
Sakti3 has received $30MM in venture funding from Khosla Ventures, GM Ventures, Itochu, and a grant from the State of Michigan.
Sakti3 has been recognized for its innovative approaches with several technical and business awards, including recognition as an Energy Innovation Pioneer by CERAWEEK (2014), in MIT's Technology Review as one the World's 50 Most Innovative Companies (2012) and the winner of the World's Top Ten in the Energy Category (2011).