Volta Energy Technologies Takes Aim at One of Clean Tech’s Greatest Challenges with Investment in Nanoscale Components
Silicon can make batteries better and cheaper — if the challenge of lithium loss can be solved
CHICAGO (February 2019) Volta Energy Technologies (Volta) announced today that it is investing in Nanoscale Components, a leading developer of technology that could solve one of the energy storage industry’s longest standing technical challenges.
There are countless efforts underway to increase the amount of silicon that can be used in Li-ion batteries, as the material increases the battery’s ability to hold more energy. Manufacturers have yet to tap into silicon’s full promise because incorporating anything more than a small amount of silicon results in a large lithium loss that decreases energy and increases cost.
The industry has long sought a way to supplement lithium to counteract the loss. All earlier efforts, however, have been unsafe, expensive and difficult to scale. Nanoscale addresses the issue with a safe, low-cost and scalable manufacturing process that pre-lithiates Li-ion battery electrodes, enabling cell manufacturers to tap into silicon’s full promise.
“Several innovators are seeking to solve the pre-lithiation challenge, and Nanoscale Components offers the most promising solution our team has seen yet,” said Volta founder and CEO Jeff Chamberlain. “Nanoscale’s technology holds the promise of broadly enabling the commercialization of lower-cost, higher-performing batteries — a holy grail in energy storage, and an issue of critical importance to Volta’s strategic investors.”
Nanoscale Components’ process enables cell manufacturers to use more high-specific capacity material such as silicon to make cells with higher energy density and longer cycle life. It stands to significantly improve the performance of Li-ion batteries used in everything from electric vehicles, to consumer electronics, to the grid.
Already operating at pilot manufacturing scale, Nanoscale’s process has been successfully used to prelithiate silicon-blended anodes that have over four times the capacity to hold energy compared to today’s graphite anodes. This significant capacity boost will translate into longer-range electric vehicles and longer life for consumer electronics like cell phones and portable computers. Nanoscale’s technology is compatible with the high-volume roll-to-roll manufacturing used in all Li-ion battery manufacturing and is sufficiently cost-effective so that batteries made with the company’s prelithiation can be lower cost per kilowatt-hour than batteries without it.
“Nanoscale Components has solved a fundamental challenge standing in the way of the next generation of Li-ion batteries,” said Ron Wohl, CEO of Nanoscale Components. “The next step for us is to commercialize our technology at the mass production scale the industry needs. We are excited to partner with Volta, and expand our trials with leading cell makers, materials suppliers, automakers and consumer electronics firms.”
Nanoscale Components is the fourth addition to Volta’s growing portfolio of technologies and businesses aimed at enabling the ubiquitous global adoption of electric vehicles and renewable power generation. Volta selected Nanoscale Components because of the company’s potential for enabling battery innovations that will benefit Volta’s industry partners and stakeholders.
Volta launched in December 2017 with a new model to identify and invest in breakthrough technologies that will impact a crowded energy storage market. The combination of Volta’s relationships with Argonne National Laboratory and its strategic industry partners, such as Albemarle and Exelon, will help to maximize impact and returns in this opportunity-rich sector.
Volta Energy Technologies identifies and invests in battery and energy storage technology after performing deep diligence with the support of unparalleled global research institutions. Seeded by strategic corporate investors, Volta connects innovators with investors and relevant industries that are adopting energy storage technology, delivering strategic returns for all. To learn more, visit plusvolta.com and follow @VoltaLink on Twitter.