For next-generation EVs and mobile devices to succeed, advancements in battery technology are needed. Typical advancements include adding silicon anode materials to LIB cells or developing lithium metal cells with liquid or gel electrolytes. These approaches offer the potential for higher energy but are expensive and hard to scale.
Lithium metal is also highly flammable, leading to safety concerns. To compensate, engineers must design safety at the system level with protective structures, fire-retardant materials, and complex thermal management systems, which increases product costs and limits the potential for system-level energy density improvements.
Blue Current is taking a different approach by addressing three performance vectors. The company is using high-volume lithium-ion (LIB) manufacturing equipment to develop batteries at its 22,000-square-foot pilot manufacturing facility in Hayward, California.
By incorporating the highest possible amount of silicon, energy density is maximized. Expensive packaging for Blue Current’s battery is unnecessary due to its low operating pressure. The company’s battery is also safe and completely dry without flammable liquid or gel electrolyte materials used in traditional LIB.
“It’s clear from our progress in 2023 that there is continued and growing interest to move the EV industry forward using a silicon-first approach,” said Kevin Wujcik, CTO at Blue Current. “Fully dry solid electrolytes are critical to achieving high silicon content anodes. The progress we’ve made developing elastic composite electrolyte materials and enabling low pressure makes us uniquely capable of commercializing this approach, and we’re excited about the feedback we’re hearing from our partners.”
Blue Current believes that it is the first to deliver on all three of these metrics using what it refers to as a silicon-first approach with elastic composite electrolyte technology, evidenced by the following milestones in 2023:
- A 10x higher silicon anode active material content versus LIB cells while maintaining long cycle life of 1000 cycles. This enables a 50% reduction in anode thickness.
- Steady improvement in energy density with over 100 Wh/L added in 2023. Current density is comparable with LIB, and the company has a defined development path to over 900 Wh/L that’s 33% higher than LIB cells.
- High cycle life achieved at pressures of 1 MPa. This is an order of magnitude lower pressure than the published research on fully dry ASSB technology, enabling reduced packaging costs.
- Unique IP for low pressure operation builds on the company’s 22 patent families, covering materials and material integration of composites.
- Ongoing safety testing shows that thermal stability is substantially higher than traditional LIB battery cells, including ARC, crush, DSC, nail penetration, and overcharge testing.
“We hear all the time from customers who tell us that safety equals increased cost at the pack and system level and that they need batteries that are both safe and energy dense simultaneously,” said Ben Eiref, CEO with Blue Current. “This was our vision from the start. We see a future where batteries are fully dry and inherently safe by default and powered by silicon, the most abundant material on earth.”
In 2023, Blue Current doubled its team of chemists and advanced manufacturing experts with key hires with prior background at Cal-tech, Tesla, PPG, QuantumScape, SilaNano, Stanford, and Rivian. It also completed a series of evaluation projects with global industry partners.
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