This Q&A will focus on the incorporation of BioSolar Super Cathode technology with lithium-ion batteries — and how your technology can achieve significantly higher capacity with costs below $100/kWh, which is less than half of today’s lowest cost lithium-ion batteries.
Super Cathode Battery Technology
David Lee | BioSolar
Can you discuss your recent success with the first phase in the development of your super battery technology?
In choosing a specific implementation of a new battery chemistry with higher energy capacity, it is equally important to make sure that low cost raw materials are commercially available and that cost effective synthesis of electrodes using these raw materials are possible in commercial scale.
During the first phase of our technology development, we identified a specific chemistry of our Super Cathode that can be implemented using commercially available low cost raw materials. We also identified methods for cost effective commercial scale synthesis of our cathode using these raw materials.
Our cathode prototype based on this chemistry was prepared in the laboratory. We were able to obtain measurements of the specific energy capacity for the prototype cathode (and subsequent battery incorporating this cathode) which paves the way for our next phase R&D.
How does BioSolar’s battery technology research differ from others in development?
Most existing battery development programs focus on improving existing conventional cathode, anode, and other components that use lithium-ion intercalation chemistry. They continue to generate incremental improvements in battery capacity, battery life, and costs, yet these efforts also rely heavily on cost reduction by scale of economy. Furthermore, most existing batteries that use lithium-ion intercalation chemistry cannot retain more than 80% of its storage capacity after 1,000 charge-discharge cycles.
BioSolar’s battery chemistry exploits fast redox-reaction properties of inexpensive polymers and organic materials that can match the storage of conventional anodes. The stable redox chemistry of our cathode material can enable much longer life. Our laboratory experiments have shown that our cathode can easily cycle over 50,000 times without degradation in supercapacitors, and we believe that it can be very effective in batteries as well.
The underlying chemistry behind BioSolar’s Super Cathode has potential benefits including higher specific capacity (higher kWh/Kg), lower cost of materials and manufacturing process, and substantially longer battery life.
What are the primary applications that you envision for your super batteries?
The basic chemistry defined in the first phase of our development program can be used for all battery applications (consumer, electric vehicle, local storage, etc.), but the EV battery sector is the fastest growing area of the battery development at this time. Furthermore, the survival of the EV industry depends on higher capacity and lower cost in order to become a viable alternative to conventional automotive transportations.
What are next steps for your research now having successfully completed the first phase?
The next step is to design and build sufficient quantity of prototype electrodes and battery cells that will allow more quantitative and extensive evaluation of Lithium-ion batteries incorporating our Super Cathode. We will also seek partnerships with public or private institutions that currently possess extensive prototype and testing capabilities.
How long do you project it will be before you have a stable product solution ready for manufacturing and distribution.
It typically has been a long process (basic chemistry research and development, to pilot scale development, to production scale) for most new battery development. Even the successful projects take several years to reach a stable production solution ready for manufacturing and distribution.
Furthermore, battery technologies that provide incremental improvements in performance and lower costs are having difficulty gaining traction in the battery market place. Battery OEM customers are often hesitant to take risks by switching to a new battery technology unless there is a substantial potential benefits for the risk.
We believe the potential benefits of our Super Cathode technology (substantially lower costs and longer battery life) will be an enabler for the emerging storage industry that absolutely needs to have substantial increase in performance and reduced costs.
Upon a successful completion of our R&D stage, hopefully within the next 18 months, we will proceed with the next stage (pilot scale and production scale development) in cooperation with large battery manufacturing partners motivated by potential benefits of our Super Cathode technology.
How will research advancements with lithium-ion batteries impact user-adoption for the EV industry?
User adoption for the EV industry hinges on substantially lowering the cost of batteries, which will reduce the purchase price of EVs. In addition to the low cost of battery storage, cycle life of the battery has to substantially improve so that EV owners do not have to buy replacement Lithium-ion batteries every five years or so.
If we are successful in reducing the cost of electrical energy storage below $100/kWh, the impact on the EV market will be substantial. This means the electric vehicles can directly compete with conventional vehicles in terms of range and cost of ownership, and that manufacturers can also guarantee the battery for the lifetime of vehicle use.
What are key items that businesses should think about if it is considering incorporating batteries into their energy infrastructure?
Businesses should look at the overall cost versus the benefits of installing batteries in its energy structure. This depends on what benefits the business most (maximizing the return while minimizing the cost of battery installation and maintenance during the entire battery life).
Minimizing the overall utility bill by storing electrical energy during non-peak hours and use them during peak hours.
Protecting its energy infrastructure by allowing batteries to provide high quality and steady flow of electrical energy.
Storing electrical energy generated by renewable sources (ex. rooftop solar), then using it when the sun goes down.
About David D. Lee
David D. Lee, founder of BioSolar, has over 30 years of engineering, marketing, sales, and corporate management experience in the areas of military and consumer communication systems, automotive electronics, software development and consulting. He has held senior management positions in numerous technology companies over the course of his career including Chief Operating Officer for Applied Reasoning, Inc., an Internet software development company; Vice President and General Manager of RF-Link Technology, Inc., a wireless technology company; Program Manager at TRW Transportation Electronics, and Systems Engineer at TRW Space and Defense. Dr. Lee holds a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Michigan Ann Arbor, and a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.
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