Reinvented Li-ion cell costs 50% less to produce

June 23, 2015 // By Paul Buckley
Start-up battery technology company 24M Technologies (Cambridge, MA) is emerging from stealth mode to introduce the semisolid lithium-ion cell, a new class of lithium-ion battery that the company claims could cut the cost of today's lithiun ion batteries in half. The semisolid lithium-ion cell technology combines an overhaul in battery cell design with a series of manufacturing innovations that the company claims will not only dramatically cut costs, but also improve battery performance.

Until now, the energy storage field has had two options to try to drive down costs - build massive and complex factories to produce lithium-ion batteries in high volumes or pursue entirely new chemistries that may never move from the lab to the commercial floor. With the invention of the semisolid lithium-ion battery, 24M is aiming to present a third option - work with the world's preferred energy storage chemistry and unlock new opportunities for cost reductions through new cell design and manufacturing innovations.

"The lithium-ion battery is a brilliant, enabling technology, but its economics are flawed. It's prohibitively expensive; it's cumbersome and inefficient to make; and today's version is approaching the limits of its cost reductions," said Dr. Yet-Ming Chiang, 24M's Chief Scientist. "24M has fixed the flaws. We've made the world's favorite battery better, fundamentally changing its cost curve by designing a more elegant and simpler cell and then making the batteries the right way – the way they should have been made from day one."

24M's cell design is made possible by the semisolid thick electrode – a material science innovation that originated in Dr. Chiang's lab at MIT.  Conventional lithium-ion battery cells have a large fraction of inactive, non-charge carrying materials – supporting metals and plastics – that are layered, one-on-top of the other, within a cell's casing. Those inactive materials are expensive and wasteful. With the invention of the semisolid thick electrode, 24M eliminates more than 80% of the inactive materials and increases the active layer thickness over traditional lithium-ion by up to 5x. Using thick electrodes, the cell also stores more energy, bettering the performance of the battery as well as its cost.