If you could wave a magic wand and make today’s electric car batteries better, what improvements would you ask for? Higher energy density? Yup. Faster charging? Absolutely. Lower cost? Definitely. Enevate, a battery startup located in Irvine, California, says it has a battery coming soon that has all three. Sure, we know. You’ve heard it all before. Where are the independent lab tests verifying all those rosy projections? And that’s a fair question. Battery breakthrough claims are a dime a dozen.
Before you go dismissing this as just more happy talk designed to attract investors, consider this. None other than Nobel laureate John Goodenough, who has served on Enevate’s advisory board since 2010, says “I salute the Enevate team for reaching this next important step in fulfilling the company’s mission to develop and commercialize innovative battery technologies to accelerate the adoption of electrified mobility.”
So what do we know about the company? Only what’s on its website, but that should be enough to spark your interest. “Enevate is providing a solution to a difficult problem for automotive OEMs and EV battery manufacturers — providing extreme fast charging with high energy density and at lower material cost than conventional Li-ion batteries, while being compatible with existing battery fabrication facilities.” That last part is critical. Any new technology that can’t be manufactured using existing methods faces a difficult uphill climb to convince manufacturers to invest large amounts of money in new production equipment.
The company says its new XFC-Energy™ technology achieves 5-minute charging to 75% capacity using an ultra high power charger. 800 Wh/L cell energy density is claimed. By comparison, conventional large-format Li-ion EV cells are at 500-600 Wh/L and typically take over 1 hour to charge. Even though the company says it will be 3 to 4 years before it batteries appear in electric vehicles, that doesn’t mean it isn’t working closely with auto manufacturers today. [Note: the latest ultra high power Superchargers from Tesla can also add lots of miles in a relatively short time.]
“Mass EV adoption by consumers and fleet owners will depend to a large degree on advanced battery technology that will remove current barriers to entry such as long charging times and limited range,” says Christian Noske, Chairman of Alliance Ventures (Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi). “Enevate is a key enabler for electric vehicles that are affordable, easy and quick to charge, and clean.”
Enevate founder and chief technology officer Dr. Benjamin Park says Enevate’s XFC-Energy technology has been designed for large-format pouch, prismatic, and cylindrical EV cells, utilizing its pure silicon anode paired with nickel-rich NCA, NCM and NCMA advanced cathodes.
“Enevate’s extreme fast charge technology enables a future where gas stations become drive-through EV charging stations — a win-win for consumers and the environment as electric vehicles replace those using gasoline. Enevate’s technology will help close the usability gap between today’s EVs and gas cars,” he says.
Battery charging times are still a key metric for electric car adoption. Most potential customers don’t realize they can charge their car at home or at work and have 80% or more range at the beginning of every journey. No one comes and fills the gas tank of conventional cars overnight or during working hours but many people today still fail to grasp this fundamental difference between gas powered cars and electric cars.
5-minute recharge times could play an important role in convincing people to give up gasmobiles for EVs. Driving down battery prices will also help to lower the initial purchase price of new EVs, further driving the changeover to emission free driving.
The fourth generation battery cells from Enevate are the result over 74 million hours of battery cell testing by Enevate’s scientists and the accumulation of 2 billion data points. The company has produced more than 1 million meters of high silicon content electrodes since it was founded in 2005.