Scaling Up Pilot Production of Nanoporous Membranes for Battery Storage Technologies

The purpose of this project is to scale up the production of an advanced battery membrane platform that improves cycle life, increases energy density, and allows use of more abundant materials such as manganese instead of cobalt.

Project Update

In 2021, the team closed an oversubscribed Series A, increased in-house pouch cell fabrication throughput 5-fold, and increased cell capacity by 75-fold with a prototyping partner. In addition, the team grew the coating team, hired a VP of Operations, and increased membrane coating throughput 2-fold. In 2022, the team expects to further increase in-house pouch cell fabrication throughput 4-fold, source a roll-to-roll coater that increases capacity 1000-fold, and fulfill sample requests from multiple tier 1 battery cell and EV manufacturers.

The Issue

Batteries, charged with clean renewable energy, are poised to be the 21st century’s zero-carbon solution to fossil fuel combustion, powering everything from electric vehicles to the electric grid. In order remove barriers to large-scale adoption and meet the expected increased demand for EVs, battery life, range and cost must be optimized. Current lithium batteries suffer from degradation over extended use periods, vulnerabilities to thermal runaway, and a dependence on rare-earth metals, such as cobalt, sourced from conflict ridden areas of the planet.

Project Innovation

The purpose of this project is to scale-up the production of an advanced battery membrane platform for market facilitation of safe, low-cost, and energy-dense batteries. The proposed approach is to establish optimal processes for each key component of the innovative membrane (polymer, polymer ink, and roll-to-roll coating) to generate quality assurance and quality control metrics that will lead to an in-house low rate initial production of the membrane for batteries. The intent is to establish a steady commercialized platform technology that will create multiple market opportunities in a variety of battery chemistries. The innovative membrane, in addition to improving the cycle life of batteries, enables more energy to be extracted from the same cathodes used under previously abusive conditions, operate at elevated temperatures, and allows use of more abundant materials such as manganese instead of cobalt.

Project Benefits

The nanoporous membrane platform opens paths to safely increasing Li-metal battery energy density by 40%, dropping the cost below $100/kWh while developing manufacturing capabilities for advanced battery components in California. This technology can be integrated with existing Li-metal battery manufacturing infrastructure to reduce barriers to market entry. Beyond Li-metal batteries, this platform membrane technology is already being leveraged to enable breakthroughs in Li-metal batteries for advanced electric vehicles with greater than 350 mile range and ultra-low-cost flow batteries for long-duration grid storage, multiplying the potential for impact.


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