Canadian tech company, Nano One, has acquired a patented technology for the low-cost production of high-performance lithium-ion battery cathode materials used in electric vehicles, energy storage, and consumer electronics. The processing technology allows lower-cost feedstocks, simplifies the creation, and improves performance for a wide range of cathode elements.
In particular, the patented coated nanocrystal promises improvements to the durability and cost of lithium-ion battery cathode materials — which should benefit automotive manufacturers and suppliers. The company is able to formulate a protective coating of individual nano-particles, which are designed to resist cracking and withstand the rigors of repeated charging.
An unrelated publication from Tesla’s research team, released shortly thereafter, demonstrated the possibility of million-mile batteries using single-crystal cathode materials with advanced electrolyte.
“Tesla’s research provides evidence that batteries made with single-crystal cathodes can last an order of magnitude longer than conventional composite cathode structures in battery cycle testing,” says Nano One CEO, Dan Blondal. “These results help to substantiate Nano One’s technology advantage and have spawned a great deal of interest in our coated nanocrystal innovation, which produces our patented single-crystal cathode powders. This has generated a measurable increase in strategic level discussions and forms the basis of current relationships with several automotive players and chemical companies. We are working hard to add these developing relationships to our existing list of joint development partnerships.”
Nano One’s coated nanocrystal innovation is described in a 90-second animation and addresses a fundamental battery tradeoff between energy density and durability. Increased durability would provide electric vehicle manufacturers greater flexibility in optimizing range, charging rates, safety, and cost.
The increased durability also enables the reduction of cobalt in batteries to address cost, supply, and ethical issues.
Each of Nano One’s cathode technologies — lithium iron phosphate (LFP); nickel manganese cobalt oxide (NMC); and high voltage spinel (HVS or LNMO) — form coated nanocrystals with a range of benefits and applications.
Blondal added: “The automotive industry is increasingly committed to an electric vehicle transition, and Nano One is well-positioned with its coated nanocrystal innovation to leverage the need for increased durability, stability, and energy density.”
Tesla’s million-mile battery
A newly issued patent from Tesla aims to bring the company’s idea for a one-million-mile battery to life by using several electrolyte additives to improve the longevity and performance of its lithium-ion cells. Tesla tendered the patent for “Dioxazolones and Nitrile Sulfites as Electrolyte Additives for Lithium-Ion Batteries,” focused on improving the company’s rechargeable battery operations by adjusting the cells’ chemistry.
The patent claims that the extension of electrolyte additives, like lithium salt, can drastically advance the longevity and performance of battery systems when coupled with a non-aqueous solution. A non-aqueous solution does not hold water as the solvent, but rather another liquid.
The patent states:
Electrolyte additives have been shown to be operative and increase the lifetime and performance of Li-ion-based batteries… To further progress the adoption of electric vehicles and grid energy storage applications, it is desirable to develop lithium-ion cell chemistries that offer longer lifetimes at high temperatures and high cell voltages, without significantly increasing cost. The introduction of sacrificial electrolyte additives on the order of a few weight percent is a practical method to form protective solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) layers that limit electrolyte decomposition during cell storage and operation. In recent years, significant efforts have yielded a large number of such additives that may be used to improve cell performance for various applications. Examples are vinylene carbonate (VC), fluoroethylene carbonate (FEC), prop-l-ene-l,3-sultone (PES), ethylene sulfate (1, 3, 2-dioxathiolane-2, 2-dioxide, DTD), and lithium difluorophosphate (LFO)
Tesla said it recognizes that increased temperatures are detrimental to the lifespan of a battery system. In a previous patent, Tesla outlined a cooling system that could lead to longer-lasting energy storage systems. Although heat is unavoidable as it is a key player in the use of lithium-ion batteries — especially when owners of Tesla vehicles are operating in performance modes — engineers realize the solvents and solutions could be a way to improve performance and lifespan without significantly increasing cost.
A good portion of Tesla’s lead in the electric car industry lies in the company’s batteries or, more specifically, its cell chemistry. It is these factors that allow Tesla to maximize its vehicles’ battery packs, and a key reason why the Model S Long Range is able to travel 373 miles on one charge with a 100 kWh battery, and why the Porsche Taycan can only go 201 miles per charge on a pack that’s nearly as large. This patent confirms that Tesla continues to work on improving its batteries, allowing the company to maintain or even increase its lead in the EV segment.
Tesla’s lead in the electric car industry rests in the company’s batteries, or more accurately, its cell chemistry. It is these factors that permit Tesla to maximize its vehicles’ battery packs, and a critical reason why the Model S Long Range has the capability to travel 373 miles on one charge with a 100 kWh battery, and why the Porsche Taycan can only run 201 miles per charge on a pack that’s nearly as large. This patent proves that Tesla continues to work on improving its batteries, permitting the company to maintain or even increase its lead in the EV segment.