GM-backed Envia claims huge advance in cheaper, better batteries for 300-mile EVs

Looking for signs that the automotive landscape may be changing sooner than most people realize? Here's one. Envia Systems, a start-up battery company that counts General Motors as a significant investor, has announced it has produced a cell with an energy density of 400 watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/kg). It also claims they will be priced somewhere in the $125 per kilowatt-hour neighborhood. Put another way, a $20,000 car using these cells could travel 300 miles on a charge. Even if that scenario sounds a bit optimistic, color us impressed. GM must be pleased, too, since when it made its $7-million investment is also concluded a separate licensing deal to use Envia's new technology in future vehicles.

To contrast Envia's numbers with batteries in electric vehicles available today, most lithium cells fall between 100-150 Wh/kg and easily cost double to triple Envia's projected price. Only Tesla Motors – using cells from Panasonic – even comes close to these figures. Its Model S batteries should weigh in at around 240 Wh/kg and, price-wise, Tesla CEO Elon Musk is recently on record as saying he expects to see cost drop below $200 per Wh in the near future.

Envia says its breakthrough comes from pairing a "High Capacity Manganese Rich (HCMR)" cathode with a silicon-carbon nanocomposite anode. The other major battery component, the electrolyte through which the lithium ions pass, has also been altered from what is typically used and allows for a somewhat higher voltage.

Perhaps the best part of this news is the fact that Envia's numbers aren't just based on expectations from early research. In fact, the cells in question have already undergone independent testing by the Electrochemical Power Systems Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) and are expected to be commercialized by 2015. The company will make its official announcement of the breakthrough at the ARPA-E conference today. Previously, Envia tested its batteries in a Ford F-150 plug-in hybrid conversion . (UPDATE: It appears this was a different Envia.)
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Breakthrough 400 Watt-­‐hour/kilogram Lithium-­‐ion Battery Poised to Revolutionize Cost, Range and Safety in Electric Vehicles

NEWARK, CA – February 27, 2012 – Envia Systems, a technology leader in high-­‐performance, low-­‐cost lithium-­‐ion energy storage solutions today announced test results that verify the company's next-­‐ generation rechargeable battery has achieved the highest recorded energy density of 400 Watt-­‐ hours/kilogram (Wh/kg) for a rechargeable lithium-­‐ion cell. When commercialized, this 400 Wh/kg battery is expected to slash the price of a 300-­‐mile range electric vehicle by cutting the cost of the battery pack by more than 50 percent.

The testing of Envia's next-­‐generation lithium-­‐ion battery was performed by the Electrochemical Power Systems Department at the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) in Crane, Ind., under the sponsorship of ARPA-­‐E. Tests at various cycling rates at NSWC confirmed that Envia's automotive battery cell demonstrated energy density between 378-­‐418 Wh/kg for rates between C/3 to C/10 for a 45 Amp-­‐hour (C/3) cell. Similar cells have been cycling in Envia's test labs for over 300 cycles. NSWC Crane will also test these cells to validate cycling performance. [See excerpts of the test results here:]

"Since the inception of Envia, our product team has worked tirelessly and logged over 25 million test channel hours to optimally develop each of the active components of the battery: Envia's proprietary Si-­‐ C anode, HCMR cathode and EHV electrolyte," said Dr. Sujeet Kumar, Envia Systems co-­‐founder, president & CTO. "Rather than just a proof-­‐of-­‐concept of energy density, I am pleased that our team was successful in actually delivering 400 Wh/kg automotive grade 45 Ah lithium-­‐ion rechargeable cells."

"Envia's new battery technology represents exactly the kind of innovation and breakthroughs that ARPA-­‐E is looking for from the American research and development community," said ARPA-­‐E Director Arun Majumdar. "We hope that this low cost and high density battery technology enables wide spread adoption of electric vehicles across the country and around the world."

"In an industry where energy density tends to increase five percent a year, our achievement of more than doubling state-­‐of-­‐art energy density and lowering cost by half is a giant step towards realizing Envia's mission of mass market affordability of a 300-­‐mile electric vehicle," said Envia Systems Chairman and CEO Atul Kapadia.

About Envia Systems
Envia Systems is the industry leader in high performance, low cost lithium-­‐ion energy storage solutions. Based in Newark, Calif., Envia's patented cathode, anode and electrolyte materials enables its batteries to deliver high energy density, safety and calendar life. These systems are used by manufacturers developing Electric Vehicles and Plug-­‐in Hybrid Electric Vehicles. For more information, please visit

Envia was awarded grants by both the Advanced Research Projects Agency-­‐Energy (ARPA-­‐E) and the California Energy Commission in 2010 to develop high energy density batteries for electric vehicles. General Motors Ventures LLC participated in an equity investment round of $17 million in 2011

For more information, please visit

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