As published by the MIT Technology Review, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the company 24M has developed batteries with a higher energy density . The startup has just raised almost 20 million euros to launch its first products, which promise to improve the storage of energy in the electricity network and reduce the cost of electric vehicles.
More than eight years after the creation of the startup 24M, with the help of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), its CEO, Rick Feldt, assures that the semi-solid lithium-ion batteries developed in the company’s pilot laboratory have surpassed those of the current market in terms of energy density. In this sense, Feldt has announced that 24M will start working with an industrial partner to build a small factory to market its first products in 2020, five years behind the initial term set by the company itself.
A greater density of energy translates into batteries that cost less, weigh less and last longer, which is another opportunity and opens the door to the manufacture of electric vehicles where autonomy is no longer the concern, or even invites us to think on mobile devices that do not require a pack of extra battery recharges in order to finish the day.
Recently, the company announced that it had raised almost 20 million euros in funds that it will invest in factory facilities and in research to further increase energy density. Two Japanese companies spearheaded the financing round: the ceramics and electronics giant Kyocera Group and Itochu, a textile production and sales company.
The initial target market for these batteries is the electric vehicle sector, but the company has also highlighted the potential of its technology to improve the storage of power from the electricity network.
Higher energy density in a simplified design
The goal of 24M is to simplify the design of the lithium-ion battery. In standard versions, such as those of a Tesla car, the electrodes that carry the current in and out of a cell are organized in a series of layers and then stacked or rolled up. By using different materials, 24M can melt electrodes that are four to five times thicker, and pair those anodes and cathodes in a cell immediately.
This method avoids a series of steps in the manufacturing process and significantly reduces the need for inactive materials such as copper, aluminum and plastics. This, in turn, reduces costs and energy needs, and ensures that most electrodes are dedicated to the main task of storing energy. The laboratory-scale version of the 24M batteries has an energy density of between 280 and 300 Wh / kg, greater than the approximately 250 Wh / kg of most of the high-end batteries available in the current market.
The company is also working on an alternative technical line by which lithium-ion batteries capable of reaching energy densities close to 500 Wh / kg could be created. The company claims that they have already demonstrated that densities above 350 Wh / kg are feasible using this model in the laboratory. However, this depends on the existence of a very thick separator between the electrodes that should be reduced in order to operate commercially.