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Industry News: IONBLOX Pushing the Limits of Solid-State Battery Density


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Revolution is never easy on any human population and yet the revolution that IONBLOX has for global humanity is truly evolutionary in both to the air and land movement of humans.

Who is IONBLOX? Founded in 2017, IONBLOX (Formerly known as Zenlabs Energy) is a next-generation energy company transforming the future of mobility be it by land or air. Ionblox’s proprietary pre-lithiated silicon oxide anode distinguishes itself by simultaneously delivering multiple performance attributes – fast charging, high energy, high power, and long life at low cost – pushing the limits of traditional battery storage technology and unlocking the viability of widespread electric transportation for generations to come.

Fossil-free mobility is the focus and IONBLOX is using a proprietary silicon anode in the battery instead of commonly used anode materials such as graphite. This allows Ionblox to unlock high-energy, high-power, and rapid charging capabilities in electric vehicles and aviation applications. Ionblox’s pre-lithiated silicon oxide anode is essential for high-performance applications requiring both high energy and power for fossil-free mobility.

“We know fossil-free mobility depends on high-performance batteries. At Ionblox, we have launched the only commercially scalable battery with a silicon dominant anode that can simultaneously provide high energy, high power, 1,000 fast charge cycles, and offers our partners a clear path to low-cost production.” —Sujeet Kumar, Chief Executive Officer of Ionblox

To better understand what IONBLOX has to offer, we need to understand Energy Density or better yet what is Fuel Energy Density?

There are many different materials that have stored energy, ranging from food, to diesel, to uranium. These materials are known collectively as fuels, and all of these fuels are used as energy sources for a variety of systems. Fuels that come directly from nature such as crude oil are considered primary fuels; fuels that have to be modified so they can be used such as gasoline are called secondary fuels. The table above shows energy densities for a variety of common fuels.

Energy density is the amount of energy that can be stored in a given system, substance or region of space. Energy density is measured in energy per volume or per mass. The higher the energy density of a system or material, the greater the amount of energy it has stored.

A material can release energy in four types of reactions. These reactions are nuclear, chemical, electrochemical and electrical. When calculating the amount of energy in a system most often only useful or extractable energy is measured.

Energy density is generally expressed in one of two ways and the most common is VED or Volumetric energy density and the second is GED or Gravimetric Energy density.

  • Volumetric energy density - how much energy a system contains in comparison to its volume, typically expressed in watt-hours per liter (Wh/L) or Megajoules per liter (MJ/L).
  • Gravimetric energy density - how much energy a system contains in comparison to its mass, typically expressed in watt-hours per kilogram (Wh/Kg) or Megajoules per kilogram (MJ/kg). Gravimetric energy density can also be referred to as specific energy.

Having a high energy density does not give information on how quickly this energy can be used. This knowledge is contained in the substance's power density, which describes the rate at which its energy can be put out. 

Energy sources do not give up their energy in the same way, but assuming they could, how far would each source move an auto? Coal has been used as a base line by researchers to show the amount of energy various sources can move an auto.

  • Wood - 7 meters or 23 ft
  • Coal - 10 meters or 33 ft
  • Crude oil - 18 meters or 59 ft
  • Uranium 235 - 1,625, 000 meters (1,625 km) or 5,331,365 ft or 1,010 miles

Petroleum products such as Gasoline are used due to the energy density, and this is important to understand in how IONBLOX is planning to revolutionize the air and land mobility of humans.

 Ionblox’s proprietary pre-lithiated silicon oxide anode distinguishes itself by simultaneously delivering multiple performance attributes – fast charging, high energy, high power, and long life at low cost – pushing the limits of traditional battery storage technology and unlocking the viability of widespread electric transportation for generations to come.

Let's put this into simple terms to understand the benefits of this companies' technology. 

Pre-lithiated silicon oxide anode-based cells distinguishes itself by the following:

  • Giving the cells 50% more energy density than traditional lithium-ion cells
  • 1,000 charge cycles, retaining 90% of original capacity at the 1,000 Fast DC charge
  • Rapid charges 80% of the battery's capacity in 10 minutes. In a 300-mile battery pack vehicle, this means that you can charge 240 miles in 10 minutes, on par with an equivalent ICE auto
  • Idaho Labs has confirmed this with repeated testing of a 12Ah pouch cell, confirmed energy density of 315 Wh/kg

IONBLOX believes that this proprietary solid-state lithium-ion battery cell solution in pouch form can deliver both constant rapid charging with high endurance all in a single cell design at a lower cost with longer cycle life.

IONBLOX has stated that this solution is for both Air and Land. Lets first look at the Air solution.

Electric Air Transport

Ionblox knows that eVTOLs have unique operating profiles and hence drastically different battery requirements from EVs —and the long-term success of the eVTOL air mobility revolution depends on the development of high-performance batteries to power it. Ionblox batteries can sustain high power output for a significant length of time without quickly draining the energy stored within. That’s what planes need and why they have partnered with companies such as Lilium Jets to Applied Materials who have invested in Ionblox batteries.

The unique batteries can be scaled up with low risk and at a competitive cost because they use commercially available materials and proven production processes and equipment, rather than costly, hard-to-scale materials, such as silicon nanotubes and nanowires.

And to date, Ionblox has launched the only commercially scalable battery that can simultaneously provide high energy, high power, 1,000 fast charge cycles, and a clear path to low-cost production.

The IONBLOX Air Cells

Weight as we have seen in the auto industry is just as important an issue in the Airplane industry. Ionblox batteries allow more flight miles or increased loads over competitive products. The following charts above shows the cell characteristics and size of these state-of-the-art cells that offer high energy density with high power for the cells entire performance range.

Electric Vehicle Transport

Ionblox had this statement about vehicle transportation: "Electric mobility is one of the most important efforts in the global fight against climate change. However, in order to truly compete with internal combustion engine vehicles, the cost of electric vehicles needs to decrease, the vehicle range needs to increase, and the fast charge capability needs to vastly improve. Today's options are a $30K vehicle that travels 90 miles per charge or a $60K vehicle that travels 300 miles per charge -- neither of which appeals to the general population. And recharging your car should be as fast as filling up a tank of gas."

In partnership with the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler), Ionblox has developed an ultra high energy density cell, utilizing a silicon based anode. When most traditional cells are charged at high rates on a continuous basis, cycle life suffers tremendously. Range will finally alleviate inconveniences associated with electric vehicles — recharge time can finally last the same amount time as a gas fill-up.

Ionblox cells have one of the farthest ranges of operating temperatures of any cell currently on the market. For the market to support mass adoption of EVs two things need to happen, first is the official funding and ramp up of Ionblox cell production which is happening now allowing them to produce 50Ah large format pouch cells which will go out to both auto and aircraft manufacturers for evaluation this year and hopefully into mass production in 2024. Second is the global installation of Fast DC chargers.

Companies globally are ramping up production of these DC or EV Fast Chargers to be installed. Here in the U.S. we have the IRA or Inflation reduction Act that is helping to put level 2 chargers in homes and Fast Chargers nationally on a scale of every 50 miles to make it easy for any EV owner to travel coast to coast.

Ionblox

Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 | Internal Revenue Service (irs.gov)

The National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program Guidance (dot.gov)


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