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Startup Ionic Materials invented a lithium metal battery / SurprizingFacts

If Ionic Materials' statement turns out to be true, then such batteries can replace expensive and dangerous lithium-ion batteries. These are smartphones, electric vehicles, energy storage for solar and wind power stations and many other areas. Ionic Materials has positioned its invention exactly as an alternative to Li-Ion.

According to the company, new polymer lithium metal batteries:

  • safer
  • is more durable (in terms of greater energy density per unit mass and volume);
  • is more cost-effective (a simpler and cheaper continuous production process similar to the production of plastic packaging).


The official presentation of Ionic Materials batteries will take place at a conference in honor of the 35th anniversary of the Rocky Mountain Institute, but for the time being little is known about them. On the site in the section "Technology" the following characteristics of the batteries are indicated:

  • electrical conductivity up to 1.3 millisimens per cm at room temperature;
  • the number of lithium ion transfer 0.7,
  • high voltage (5 V).

The newspaper The New York Times published an article about the company and these revolutionary batteries, which for some reason are called "alkaline" (alkaline) batteries. At the same time, the company's website repeatedly emphasizes that the batteries are made on the basis of a solid polymer.

Nevertheless, the article has value: journalist The New York Times talked with the founder and executive director of the company – scientist Mike Zimmermann.


Mike Zimmermann, founder and CEO of Ionic Materials, drives nails into batteries in his laboratory in Woburn, Massachusetts. Photo: Tony Luong / The New York Times

At the moment, the investor of the startup is William Joy (William Joy), a well-known computer designer from the Silicon Valley. In September 2016, the firm received an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) grant of $ 3 million from the US Department of Energy for development.

It is reported that Ionic Materials has already produced prototypes of polymer batteries that can withstand " 400 charge-discharge cycles. " Zimmerman said that initially the batteries will be heavier than lithium-ion batteries, but with a greater energy density. In the new polymer, there is no cobalt, which is used in traditional Li-Ion batteries. The polymer is made of aluminum and other common materials.

The development of a new polymer took four years, and the first demonstrations Ionic Materials began last year. For example, in December, Zimmerman himself held a demonstration, hammering thick nails into the prototype with an ax.


Photo: Tony Luong / The New York Times

Especially great potential for polymer batteries is seen in electric vehicles. It's no surprise that Ionic Materials technology is being discussed at the Tesla forums. Suspicious top-starter asks that Ilon Mask thinks about "the most innovative technology of future batteries"? These batteries use a flame-resistant polymer instead of the traditional electrolyte. That is, in the car, in principle, it is impossible to explode or burn batteries, which has already happened with Tesla machines. In addition, these batteries can double the capacity of batteries in Tesla cars due to doubled energy density, that is, electric vehicles will be able to travel many hundreds of kilometers from one charge. Why should not Tesla Motors invest in this company.

The forum is still skeptical of technology. Too good it sounds in advertisements on the official website. The question arises: what is the catch? Each technology has not only advantages but also drawbacks, and here shortcomings seem to be lacking.

It's another matter if Ionic Materials sent a real sample of their battery for testing in a car, that's another matter, you could have Think about the investments and potential for the future use of this remarkable technology. If it is really real. But so far, polymer batteries Ionic Materials look too unlikely. Another magic technology that supposedly solves all the problems.

Even if the batteries are really invented, they probably have some disadvantage: either they will be very expensive, or have few charge / discharge cycles, or something, Anything else.