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Advanced Manufacturing

Lowering Battery Costs Through Repurposed Electronic Foundry Manufacturing

Company Name: Neah Power Systems
Program Office: Advanced Manufacturing
Location: Bothell, WA
Website: neahpower.com
EMAIL: Dr. Chris D’Couto, President & CEO; cdcouto@neahpower.com
Award Amount: $300,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: In Progress
Participating Lab(s): Argonne National Laboratory

CRITICAL NEED

Battery technology has advanced by leaps and bounds in the past decade, but current lithium-ion battery chemistries based on a high-energy cathode and a lithium-intercalation anode, such as graphite, are reaching some of their limits when it comes to providing high-energy-density power at a low cost per unit with low capital cost for production.

Replacing graphite with lithium metal or lithium alloy is a viable method to increase energy density. Neah Power Systems has patented a three-dimensional porous silicon based lithium-metal battery that has demonstrated 1,500 watts per liter of volume and 500 watts per kilogram. This battery uses older generation computer chip manufacturing technology that is widely available throughout the world, enabling a low cost, which the company targets at $150 per kilowatt hour in high volume production. Such a low price point would make the battery applicable across industries, from small devices such as cell phones to larger applications for stationary power, automotive and grid-scale back up. Such a foundry model allows a low capital-cost ramp up into high volume production, with very high quality control. Through the SBV Pilot, the company will utilize Argonne National Laboratory staff and expertise to determine the optimal metallization scheme for porous silicon as well as reliable and reproducible processes and insights into possible causes of degradation, capacity fade and dendrite growth.

PROJECT INNOVATION + ADVANTAGES

In addition to utilizing existing manufacturing technology, the battery uses existing materials for the anode, cathode, the separator and the electrolytes. This reduces the risk of new materials adoption and testing. The technology also includes a unique approach using microchip geometry to control dendrite growth. The understanding acquired through the project will improve the manufacturing of the porous silicon, in particular the metallization process. This will help the company achieve target metrics on cost, and performance, and allow longer cycle lifetime for the battery.

POTENTIAL IMPACT

Economy:

Developing new technologies that can piggyback on older industries preserves jobs, utilizes existing infrastructure and fosters opportunities in advanced manufacturing, including domestic job creation.

Environment:

Electric vehicles reduce pollution associated with gasoline combustion. Electricity storage is also an important complement for renewable electricity systems, which vary in how much power they produce based on local weather conditions.

Security:

Electric vehicles are increasingly cost-competitive with their gasoline counterparts, but consumers will remain hesitant to purchase them until their range grows longer. Higher penetration for such vehicles can dramatically reduce U.S. gasoline consumption and the country's resulting reliance on overseas oil markets.