Energy storage has been a hot topic lately. While there are many forms of energy storage, the one we might be most familiar with is lithium-ion battery technology. All those smartphones you see around wouldnâ€™t be here were it not for lithium-ion batteries. Perhaps the most visible user of lithium-ion batteries these days is Tesla which is using them to power extremely fast electric cars and just recently, even your home. Investors are probably thinking to themselves, are there any companies that are building technologies that improve upon the capabilities of lithium-ion batteries? There are quite a few in fact, and hereâ€™s five startups to start with.
The first one is a company we profiled in the past,Â Amprius,Â with their highly efficientÂ anodeÂ made out of siliconÂ nanowiresÂ for lithium-ion batteries which promises aÂ 20% to 40% improvement in battery life over existing high-end batteries. The second one is a UK company, Nexeon, which is also developingÂ silicon anodes for the next generation ofÂ lithium-ion battery. In our past article on Nexeon, we noted that they were expected to complete last year aÂ manufacturing facility capable of producing 20 tons of their silicon anode material per annum. In addition to these two anode companies, here are 3 more companies looking to develop the next generation of lithium-ion batteries.
Perhaps the most farthest along of all the companies weâ€™ve profiled so far, Boston PowerÂ was founded in 2005 and has taken in $370 million funding so far which has been used to bring their next generation lithium-ion battery cells to commercialization. Just last week they announced a 24 voltÂ large format lithium-ion module which has a 10-year cycle life. The Company countsÂ Hewlett-Packard and ASUS as customers who offered Boston Power â€œgreenâ€ battery solutions with long life warranties for the first time in the notebook industry.Â Boston Power is also manufacturing their batteries for the electric vehicle market and is currently selling these into the Chinese market. In an announcement last month,Â Boston-Power said they will supply 30,000 ZD battery packs to a Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer. The batteries will have 2X the capacity of batteries that are used in existing vehicles with no increase in battery size.
Founded in 2003, Seattle based enerG2 has taken in aroundÂ $21 million in funding so far and is using these funds to develop their â€œCarbon Technology Platformâ€ which can produce high-performance, high-purity custom carbonsÂ at a large scale and at a low cost. The Company opened a 74,000 square foot manufacturing facility in 2012 which wasÂ funded in part by a $21 million grant from the United States Department of Energy. The Company has issued no press releases in 2015. In November of 2014, they announced a strategic partnership with BASF to useÂ EnerG2â€™s proprietary carbon materials in supercapacitor electrodes and as a performance additive in start-stop lead-acid batteries. In April of last year they unveiled a superior anode for lithium-ion batteires whichÂ blends carbon and silicon and is meant to replace commonly used graphite materials. The Company claims that their anode offers five times better battery cycle life and higher energy density than other silicon anodes. Presumably these tests included comparisons against Amprius and Nexeonâ€™s silicon anodes since they are direct competitors of enerG2.
Michigan-based battery-tech startup Sakti3 was founded in 2007 and since then has taken in $50 million in fundingfrom notable firms such as General Motors, Dyson, and Khosla Ventures. Their last round was a Series C round of $20 million, $5 million of which came from existing investors and $15 million of which came from Dyson, the British company known for their vacuum cleaners and hand dryers.Â Sakti3â€™s batteries are solid since they contain no electrolytes and are built using aÂ process called thin-film deposition. According to an article this year from the WSJ, Sakti3 will first appear in Dyson products before they are sold to any other manufacturer.
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