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Batteries Sakti3 — Battery Startup — Aims To Hit $100 Per kWh

Published on August 22nd, 2014 | by Zachary Shahan

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Sakti3 — Battery Startup — Aims To Hit $100 Per kWh

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August 22nd, 2014 by Zachary Shahan
 
Honestly, this one wasn’t planned: last night, I wrote about a new study concluding that until EV battery costs get down to $100 per kWh, most US consumers would be better off going with an electric car with less than 100 miles of range rather than splurging for a long-range electric car. Now, battery startup Sakti3 is saying that its high-performance, sold-state lithium-ion batteries should be able to get down to $100 per kWh. That would make 100+ miles of range more logical for more people.

Of course, “could” is the key word right now, and no timeframe has been estimated, as far as I have seen. However, Sakti3 apparently has a lot going for it and support from some industry insiders.

What $100 per kWh Could Mean

Tesla’s batteries reportedly cost it $200-300 per kWh, and they are said to be the best bargain on the market. Of course, Tesla and partner Panasonic are supposed to be getting their battery costs down on their own, especially through the scaling up of production at their planned Gigafactory, so let’s not get into implications for Tesla here. But if Sakti3 was able to get manufacturing going at $100 kWh within a few years (a big “if” in the world of battery startups), and Nissan was to use these batteries in its LEAF or some younger LEAF sibling, that could mean an electric car with over 250 miles of range for under $30,000 (the average new car in the US goes for over $32,000)… if we assume $300 per kWh for Nissan’s current batteries (Nissan’s current battery costs may very well be higher).

At such a point, the electric car would be cleaner; for many people, cheaper; greener; not dependent on foreign oil; more convenient to recharge (by a landslide — just plug in once in awhile before going to bed); and more fun to drive.

Of course, another route (and a smarter route according to my eyes) would be to double the LEAF’s range while also cutting the price by several thousand dollars (again). That would be killer, imho. Of course, one model alone wouldn’t bring an EV revolution, but the battery would surely be available to multiple automakers.

Also, for the record, GM Ventures invested in Sakti3 back in 2010, after partnering up more than a year earlier, so this is far enough along that it is a technology that GM is putting some money on.

Update: One of our commenters was apt to point to work Toyota is also doing on solid-state lithium-ion batteries. Here’s his comment, which references the CleanTechnica story linked above:

Everyone thinks Toyota is all about hydrogen. I’ve commented on Toyota’s solid state lithium efforts a few times now. I kept it short because I was afraid I might be getting tiresome.They’re claiming 3x energy density at 1/2 cost/kw compared to 2012 lithium, i.e., same range cost half as much with a battery three times smaller or same size battery goes 3x as far at about a third more cost. Field testing in 2015. Should be on the market by decade’s end.

One of the preeminent sites on these matters CleanTechnica has even covered the story:

http://cleantechnica.com/2014/…

Having some competition from a different outfit might spur Toyota on.


 

Back to Sakti3

sakti3 lithium ion batteryWith that context out of the way, let’s delve a little further into Sakti3. From that link to its homepage, we get a listing of some of Sakti3′s accolades:

“Sakti’s battery technology was recognized with IHS CERAWeek’s Energy Innovation Pioneer Award (2014), by MIT’s Technology Review Magazine as one of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies (2012) and World’s Top Ten, representing the “energy” category (2011). The senior team has over 100 years’ collective experience in research, manufacturing, and leadership. The company is a spinout of the University of Michigan, where its founding team created laboratories, published over 80 papers on battery technology, and demonstrated its first early prototypes. Financed by the world’s top cleantech fund, Khosla Ventures, and the world’s largest automotive investor, General Motors Ventures, the company has been recognized for its innovative approaches in Inc., Time, Automotive Engineering, the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR and other media.”

You can find out more about Sakti3′s technology and team at those links in the quote, so just head on over there if you want more. But since I can’t resist, here’s the first paragraph of the “technology” section:

“Sakti’s vacuum deposition technology was invented using advanced numerical models, coupled with real laboratory data on materials. The team began its work on computers. We methodically modeled the most promising, low cost materials, and developed battery compositions and configurations that offered great cell performance. The team also modeled the scale up of battery production, right from the start. We developed plant models that enabled us to create the right processes on the right tools. Our aim was to create the most scalable, flexible and profitable methods possible.”

Sounds quite promising to me, and aren’t Khosla Ventures and GM Ventures due for a breakthrough by now?

For Solar Support, Too

Update (Aug 23, 11am CET): One of our readers chimed in below with a note regarding the help such a battery could be for home solar owners as well. It’s an important point, so I’m throwing it in here:

This opens up GREAT opportunity for home PV penetration as well as long range BEV market penetration. More home solar PV will soon have battery storage, not just over night but maybe also for the next rainy day. This, coupled with long-range BEVs with plug-out capability will mean home coverage for many rainy days in a row. So, many homes may go off grid completely, assisted by daytime at-work charging. This will boost solar installation not just at home but also in the workplace leading to workplace charging and discharging to help balance out the grid to permit even higher wind and solar penetration. A long-range BEV will be able to get power from at-work charging to bring it home for home use when goes off grid if there will a long string of rainy days!

Soon, long-range BEVs and FCEVs with plug-out capability will be must-haves for most people, and sales will skyrocket, just like smart phones of today. This shall complete the EV Revolution for a complete takeover of the market with this uber chic trend or fashion in CleanTechnica!

Image by Sakti3

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About the Author

spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as the director/chief editor. Otherwise, he's probably enthusiastically fulfilling his duties as the director/editor of Solar Love, EV Obsession, Planetsave, or Bikocity. Zach is recognized globally as a solar energy, electric car, and wind energy expert. If you would like him to speak at a related conference or event, connect with him via social media. You can connect with Zach on any popular social networking site you like. Links to all of his main social media profiles are on ZacharyShahan.com.



  • Benjamin Nead

    Hmmm . . . it’s as if nobody can announce they’re working on a better battery without a chorus of deniers and skeptics instantly proclaiming “It can’t be true because – despite the fact that I don’t know the name of more than three battery companies – I’ve never heard of this one before” or “Elon didn’t buy them yesterday and he should have by now, if it’s for real” or “They’re scam artists because a few disgruntled ex-employees say it’s a crummy place to work for”
    or “How come I can’t buy this at Target or Walmart next week?”

    I have to believe that there is a future, some people in lab coats are working to make it better and that not all of them are criminals. Could be that a few of them might actually be onto something and that you and I just might not be aware of it yet?

    Fact is, batteries have been incrementally getting cheaper/better over the past few years. All you have to do is actually follow the industry instead of constantly making fun of it. It’s just because batteries haven’t moved at a Moore’s Law pace that most people aren’t generally aware of the progress. Computer chips spoiled us over the past couple of decades, we seem to think that the payoff always keeps on coming and that the progress will never stop. Some technologies might end up working that way and that’s great. But not all of them do or will.

    Could it be possible that battery research won’t always be moving at the current speed and that something resembling a breakthrough – especially after billions of research dollars being invested in the last 7 years or so – might actually happen sooner than later. Sure.

    Could it be that battery research will continue to only advance incrementally for the next decade or so, no matter how much money is thrown at it? Yeah, that’s also a distinct possibility.

    Could it be that batteries are actually getting worse (there always ends up being a conspiracy theorist who eventually mentions that the 1000 pound electric cars with a top speed of 15mph from a century ago actually had better range than a Nissan Leaf and, hell, we should be using some of THOSE batteries, instead of the crappy ones we have today)?

    The point is that the perpetual naysayers are just as ignorant (or perhaps even more so) than the ones who always scream “Eureka!” whenever they read an online article like this.

    All that said, Scientific American has been wrong before as well. But they’re also raising an eyebrow or two of interest over this one . . .

    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/secretive-company-claims-battery-breakthrough/

    Indeed . . . file Sakti3 with Japan Power Plus and all the others you’ve read about over the past few months (write ‘em down and post the paper on the refrigerator door, if you’re prone to forgetting names.) In a few short years, you might just start hearing progress from one or two from that list again. If you put half as much effort into this informal record keeping of battery startups as the typical sports fan does when following the ranking of basketball or football teams. you’ll start surprising yourself.

  • NRG4All

    We see so many “breakthroughs” that I have concern that all of these ideas will seek patent protection, which may actually slow down the development and bringing the idea to market. If all these inventors had Tesla’s mentality and got a “patent pending” but shared their research we may have the best of both worlds, not just one idea but many brought together to form a truly superior product than any one individually.

  • jiftuq bf

    this company is a scam
    just read the reviews of the employees on glassdoor

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      hmm, have a link?

      • jiftuq bf
        • Burnerjack

          If that is true, the organization will suffer from catastrophic inefficiency due to turnover and demotivation.

        • Bob_Wallace

          Find a different attack word than “bitch”.

          That’s so last century.

  • spec9

    It is hard not to be skeptical. Seems like every other week there is a new battery breakthrough story . . . but years go by without batteries getting significantly better/cheaper. But good luck. (How’s EESTOR coming along? ;-) )

    • Steve Grinwis

      How do you figure batteries aren’t better / cheaper?

      In the last 5 years we’ve gone from $1400 / kWh to sub 400/ kWh.

      And we’ve gone from ‘don’t fully discharge your volt’ to the Smart ED which has batteries that stand up to 4000 cycles of abuse.

      • Vensonata

        So where do I find the specs on Smart ED batteries and cycle life? Is that 4000 cycles at 80% D.O.D.?

    • Mint

      You are very right to be skeptical. The gigafactory is still well ahead of this company’s schedule, and will have the cheapest batteries until at least 2020.

      Anyone who says they can get cost reduction by making more dense batteries (like Sakti) will be selling to the smartphone market first, guaranteed. You can get $1500/kWh for higher density batteries there. Replacing current 10Wh batteries with equally sized 20Wh batteries for $500+ phones is worth at least $30.

      • Bob_Wallace

        “Anyone who says they can get cost reduction by making more dense batteries (like Sakti) will be selling to the smartphone market first, guaranteed.”

        You might be right, but it might be wise to hedge your bet.

        I’m willing to bet that most car companies have already sent a team of battery experts to Sakti and every other promising sounding battery developer. If Tesla’s experts found any promise anywhere there’s probably a factory design team at work – just in case.

        The market is so primed for a breakthrough EV battery that past behavior may not predict future behavior in this case.

  • Benjamin Nead

    I haven’t heard much new from Sakti3 in the past couple of years. Glad to see something new written about them and that they’re still in the game. Here’s a
    TED Talk from Ann Marie Sastry, Sakti3′s CEO . . .

    Good, also, to see a battery tech company being led by a woman scientist.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Nice. I hadn’t seen that.

    • jeffhre

      Also good, to see a battery tech company being led by one of the former top developers of GM’s Voltec applications.

  • Roger Pham

    This opens up GREAT opportunity for home PV penetration as well as long range BEV market penetration. More Home solar PV will soon have battery storage, not just over night but may be also for the next rainy day. This, coupled with long-range BEV’s with plug-out capability will mean home coverage for many rainy days in a row. So, many homes may go Off grid completely, assisted by day time at work charging. This will boost solar installation not just at home but also in the work place leading to work place charging and discharging to help balance out the grid to permit even higher wind and solar penetration. A long-range BEV will be able to get power from at work charging to bring it home for home use when goes off grid if there will a long string of rainy days!

    Soon, long-range BEV’s and FCEV’s with plug-out capability will be must-haves for most people, and sales will skyrocket, just like smart phones of today. This shall complete the EV Revolution for a complete takeover of the market with this uber chic trend or fashion in Clean technica!

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Excellent addendum. I’m going to go ahead and move it up into the body of the article. :D

  • Marion Meads

    Let us hope that this would not follow the path of Envia’s snafu.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Yeah, I almost referenced Envia. Of course, Envia is reportedly in the game again. http://cleantechnica.com/tag/envia/

      Also, one of the heads of GM said following the Envia collapse that it of course wasn’t putting all of its money on one potential breakthrough, and was reportedly still planning to have a very long-range EV by ~2017.

      We’ll see.

    • Matt

      It is the normal process that maybe ideas are born in the lab. Like natural selection only a portion make it past the paper napkin and then past the lab bench test stage. Of those ideas that make it to a start up, most die on the way to factory production scale. Note this failure is not always because the idea was flawed. Many other items contribute to that “valley of death”. But just like in natural selection so good ideas do make it. And they build on each other.
      I hope these guys do have a $100kwh by 2016 ;) or soon thereafter. And we need not place all our battery eggs in one basket. The trade offs for EV verse home storage verse grid storage are different. For grid storage or even at a large plant you would accept much more weigh to get lower cost; than in a EV. So my 8 ball says, we will see multiple solutions to all the different places where batteries could play a role in cleaning up our energy act.

      • Vensonata

        If they have a battery for $100 kwh then grid, factories, residential and Ev will use it. No matter what the weight there is nothing close to those specs around. If they have long cycle life like “lifepo” then only vandium might come close. But we are waiting, waiting ….”vanadium, where are you?”

  • Doug Cutler

    Toyota also claims to be pretty far along with solid state lithium with field testing to begin next year. I guess we’ll just have to see.

    • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

      Hmm, interesting. Don’t recall seeing that.

      • Doug Cutler

        Everyone thinks Toyota is all about hydrogen. I’ve commented on Toyota’s solid state lithium efforts a few times now. I kept it short because I was afraid I might be getting tiresome.They’re claiming 3x energy density as 1/2 cost/kw of 2012 lithium, i.e., same range cost half as much with a battery three times smaller or same size battery goes 3x as far at about a third more cost. Field testing in 2015. Should be on the market by decade’s end.

        One of the preeminent sites on these matters Cleantechnica has even covered the story:

        http://cleantechnica.com/2014/06/19/toyota-researching-solid-state-batteries-next-step-evs/

        Having some competition from a different outfit might spur Toyota on.

        • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

          Very interesting. Wow. That was 3 days after my daughter was born — I somehow shared it but don’t recall seeing it. :D

          • Calamity_Jean

            Well, with a three-day-old baby, you’re entitled to be a little mentally scattered.

          • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

            Thanks :D

        • http://zacharyshahan.com/ Zachary Shahan

          Added this in to the article.

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