For any electrical contractor, sustainable technology has become a central theme for many contracts, and it will continue to be front and center.
Adjacent to most sustainable technology is new ways to create batteries and energy storage. Specifically, lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery technology is advancing. One challenge is streamlining the design of Li-ion batteries with ideal materials, which are often in short supply, and producing them swiftly at a favorable cost. 24M, a battery manufacturing company, has a design that explores different materials with many combinations of lithium-ion chemistry, using better materials while staying within the same, traditional manufacturing processes of battery production.
Naoki Ota, 24M’s president and CEO, said in an October 2022 article on MIT’s website that “We can use any chemistry in the market without customers changing their supply chains. Other startups are trying to address that issue tomorrow, not today. Our tech can address the issue today and tomorrow.”
24M is dedicated to better Li-ion batteries. They created a new battery production design that uses less material and a shorter path to manufacture the cell. The semisolid design uses a “gooey” electrode that reduces costs by as much as 40%. A semisolid design boosts batteries’ energy density, or how much energy can be packed into one cell. It also results in a battery that is safer and more recyclable.
The gooey electrode was developed by MIT researchers. Yet-Ming Chiang, MIT professor of materials science and engineering, had worked with a “semi-solid flow battery” that moved electrodes within liquids to and from tanks that store a charge. He partnered with another professor, W. Craig Carter, who sponsored a student’s thesis on flow batteries.
As a result, a prototype was created and 24M was formed. Now they’re applying the innovation as a gooey electrode that greatly improves many facets of Li-ion battery design. 24M markets its technology beyond smaller kilowatt consumption users with battery technology that may be used by larger-scale gigawatt users and producers.
This snapshot of innovation and improvement of Li-ion battery design foreshadows future efforts to develop energy-dense storage cells. Such cells support more sustainable designs in a world anxious for solutions that rely less on energy derived from fossil fuel sources, and more on sustainable sources that may be captured and stored for later use.