In January 2011, GM announced a “strategic investment” in Envia Systems, but we haven’t heard much from this startup since then.
Envia Systems has been promising an energy density of 400 Wh/kg for commercial cells for a while. These first unveiled cells show we aren’t there yet, but that’s what we’ll get when the second generation cells made by Envia Systems arrive.
This is why Envia Systems thinks that high energy cells are important:
“Envia combines its high energy electrodes and unique technology to build lithium ion batteries with the highest energy density. Envia breaks free from the slow progression of battery improvement, which has plagued so many applications. An added benefit of higher energy density is lower $/kWh. Envia puts more energy into the same physical battery size which means more talk time, more miles driven per charge, and more time flying.”
It’s obvious that high energy densities not only make longer range electric cars possible but ultimately reduce the kWh cost since we get more energy from the same amount of raw materials.
Envia’s strategy for expansion is solid. Every battery cell startup should start with focus in three particular applications. They are aerial (drones), mobile devices and electric vehicles. This is exactly what Envia Systems is doing.
Let’s see what this battery cell maker has to offer.
Battery cell for aerial applications has the highest energy density:
Battery cell for mobile devices:
Now what’s interesting for us, the EV battery cell:
The cell’s specifications are only for C/3 rate, it would be more interesting to know how the cell behaves with even higher rates, like 1 or 2 C.
Regarding lifespan, after 1.000 cycles at C/3 rate the battery cell retains 80 % of the initial capacity.
As you can notice, Envia’s battery cell made for electric vehicles can handle higher rates, but the energy density isn’t as good as the other cells made for aerial applications and mobile devices. Envia says that the EV battery cells will achieve higher energy density in the second generation. Silicon will replace the current graphite anode. Adding more silicon to the graphite anode is what makes second generation NMC cells great. It’s not an easy job to use silicon in the anode without cell’s expansion problems, but when done successfully, we get very high energy dense battery cells.
Not less important is the $100/kWh goal:
“Envia’s technology dramatically reduces battery costs through low cost electrode materials and high energy density cells, ultimately reaching $100/kWh. Envia’s first generation electric vehicle cell is 234 Wh/kg, using a manganese rich cathode and graphite anode. Envia’s second generation cell will utilize its silicon based anode, enabling much higher energy density.”
Recently we’ve seen very promising cells from various startups. All these battery improvements are an opportunity for Chinese companies emerge and start competing with the Japanese and South Korean battery cell makers. Chinese companies have the resources needed to produce and commercialize these cells in a record time.
Some partnerships can also occur with current biggest battery cell makers such as LG Chem, Panasonic and Samsung SDI. This is what recently happen with Sion Power and LG Chem.
What do you think?