Envia Systems announced that it has made a major breakthrough on lithium ion cell technology. The California-based battery maker claims that its research would result in increased energy density, while at the same time reducing costs of these battery packs.
The company is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and GM Ventures, the venture capital arm of General Motors together with other individual investors. According to Atul Kapadia, Chairman and CEO of the company, “We will be able to make smaller automotive packs that are also less heavy and much cheaper. The cost of cells will be less than half – perhaps 45 percent – of cells today and the energy density will be almost three times greater than conventional automotive cells.”
He added, “What we have are not demonstrations, not experiments but actual products. We could be in automotive production in a year and a half.”
The company was founded in 2007 and had licensed technology from the Argonne National Laboratory. It was awarded $4 million in funds by the ARPA-E program of the Department of Energy. This program funds advanced energy research, as one of its founding principles is to develop lithium-ion batteries with the highest energy density in the world.
Central to the advancement of the company’s technology is the proprietary cathode, anode and electrolyte materials as it uses manganese for the cathode. One of its major investors, GM Ventures, during the announcement of its investment with the company, said that the company’s design and materials would be able to store more energy per unit of mass than any other current cathode materials. Since the cathode was a “key driver” in the total cost of a battery pack, the more energy the cathode is able to deliver, the lower the overall cost of the battery because of the lower number of cells needed in the array.
Envia claims that its battery packs would be able to deliver energy measuring at 400 watt hours per kilogram at the cost of $150 per kilowatt hour. Comparatively, Tesla rates its energy density battery for the Roadster at 121 watt hours per kilogram. The measurement of the watt per hours was measured during testing at the Naval Service Warfare Center’s Crane Evaluation System.
In response, the Center for Automotive Research through its chairman emeritus David Cole said, “If it’s true, it’s a huge breakthrough, because the main problem for battery cars has been cost. Right now, the lithium-ion battery is about three times as expensive as it should be for reasonable commercialization. That kind of cost target is the Holy Grail and once it’s achieved it’s game on.”