by Dion Boyd
An interesting article on the Clean Technica website, posted by Tina Casey on February 26th, discusses the development of the next generation’s low cost high capacity battery. A company called BioSolar is set to surpass the previous goal of $100 per kwh, set by researchers a few years prior, by achieving $54 per kwh. The company recently completed an international patent application by filling out applications for what they call a “multicomponent-approach to enhance stability and capacitance in polymer-hybrid supercapacitors.” [http://cleantechnica.com/2016/02/26/new-energy-storage-solution-could-hit-magic-54-mark/]
The biggest challenge faced by battery manufacturers is the low storage capacity of the cathode. A battery contains two major parts, the cathode and the anode, that act together as the positive and negative sides of the batteries. In today’s battery styles, the storage capacity in the anode greatly surpasses the storage capacity of the cathode. For this reason, the full storage capacity of a battery is equal to the maximum storage capacity of the cathode. According to BioSolar, the solution to this problem is their high capacity Super Cathode. This high capacity cathode is engineered from a polymer, which is very close to that of low-cost plastics used in the household. A smart chemical design enables them to make the polymer hold an enormous amount of electrons. The key to this design is the use of the fast-redox reaction properties of the polymer which allows for rapid charge and discharge. The estimated costs of the raw materials needed to create this cathode are similar to that of inexpensive plastics. Therefore, the introduction of this Super Cathode provides an answer for two typical conventional lithium-ion battery concerns, cost and capacity. [http://www.biosolar.com/super_battery.php?PHPSESSID=c01bb2d2e1f0e10ed748889535fc2645] According to BioSolar, typical lithium-ion batteries are reduced to 80% of their original battery capacity after 1,000 charge/discharge cycles, but when the new polymer is used in a supercapacitor it demonstrates a lifespan of about 50,000 lifecycles without degradation (a supercapacitor is an energy storage device that discharges quickly). [http://cleantechnica.com/2016/02/26/new-energy-storage-solution-could-hit-magic-54-mark/]
In terms of manufacturing for the cathode, BioSolar appears to be headed in the correct direction. As of now, the cathode is manufactured using water and eco-friendly solvents which eliminate the use of costly and toxic solvents, eliminate high temperature drying processes, and speeds up the production process. The cathode is essentially designed as a drop-in so that battery manufactures can just replace the cathode fabrication process with the new BioSolar materials and processes.
Overall, it appears that BioSolar is moving in the correct direction on this project but has a bit more work to do before it completely solves the energy storage problem for applications that require a slower and steadier discharge. In the end, the key takeaway is that if a Super Cathode is combined with a traditional battery with graphite anode, the price of the entire battery will be an incredibly cost-saving $54 per kwh.
Clean Technica [http://cleantechnica.com/2016/02/26/new-energy-storage-solution-could-hit-magic-54-mark/]