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Semi-Solid Flowable Battery Electrodes

24M Technologies
Semi-Solid Flow Cells for Automotive and Grid-Level Energy Storage
Picture of 24M technician
Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$5,975,331
Location: 
Cambridge, MA
Project Term: 
09/01/2010 to 02/28/2014
Project Status: 
ALUMNI
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Most of today's electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries--the same kind of batteries used in cell phones and laptop computers. Currently, most Li-Ion batteries used in EVs provide a driving range limited to 100 miles on a single charge and account for more than half of the total cost of the vehicle. To compete in the market with gasoline-based vehicles, EVs must cost less and drive farther. An EV that is cost-competitive with gasoline would require a battery with twice the energy storage of today's state-of-the-art Li-Ion battery at 30% of the cost.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Scientists at 24M are crossing a Li-Ion battery with a fuel cell to develop a semi-solid flow battery. This system relies on some of the same basic chemistry as a standard Li-Ion battery, but in a flow battery the energy storage material is held in external tanks, so storage capacity is not limited by the size of the battery itself. The design makes it easier to add storage capacity by simply increasing the size of the tanks and adding more paste. In addition, 24M's design also is able to extract more energy from the semi-solid paste than conventional Li-Ion batteries. This creates a cost-effective, energy-dense battery that can improve the driving range of EVs or be used to store energy on the electric grid.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, 24M's project would improve the driving range of EVs and reduce their sticker price, enabling a shift in transportation energy from foreign oil to domestically powered electricity.
Security: 
Increased use of EVs would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil--the transportation sector is the dominant source of this dependence.
Environment: 
Greater use of EVs would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
Economy: 
This battery would enable an EV to travel from Chicago to St. Louis (300 miles) on a single charge, for less than $10 on average.
Innovation Update: 
(As of May 2016)
24M has designed and demonstrated a new battery made of thick-electrodes that is highly efficient and exhibits reasonable life cycle with limited capacity losses. Before the end of its project term in 2014, 24M demonstrated a low-cost, scalable cell fabrication process and delivered a 17Wh cell that incorporated its thick electrode design. Since the project’s term with ARPA-E concluded, venture and strategic investors have supported the technology’s continuing advancement, which has included the development of an automated cell fabrication process. 24M is currently cultivating strategic partnerships in order to bring its product into production by 2018, and the company intends to market its batteries for use on the electric grid. 
 
Within the first year of its ARPA-E project, 24M pivoted from its initial flow-cell design to a new approach that focused on expanding the thickness of the electrodes in a battery. The team discovered that a slurry (semi-solid mixture) could be used to fabricate a film of closely packed Li compound, which could then be used to construct thicker electrodes (about 7x thicker than conventional electrodes). This new design simplifies fabrication and allows for a higher energy density than conventional Li-ion batteries – both of which have the potential to reduce the system cost. 
 
For a detailed assessment of the 24M team's project and impact, please click here.


Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Eric Rohlfing
Project Contact: 
Dr. Taison Tan
Partners
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Rutgers University
Release Date: 
4/29/2010