February 21, 2020
Originally posted on
Business Insider Prime
In the booming business of batteries, energy density is everything. The idea is simple: If companies can pack more power into a smaller space, they can make devices that are longer-lasting, lighter, or have more room for other features.
In the last three decades, the energy density of lithium-ion cells — by far the most widely used batteries on the market, found in everything from iPhones to electric cars — has grown only incrementally, according to Yury Gogotsi, a battery researcher at Drexel University.
A handful of startups say they're nearing commercialization of a breakthrough technology: a material, made with silicon, that could squeeze 20% to 40% more energy into lithium-ion batteries.
Now, there's a new competitor — and it's bringing big backers to the fight.
Advano, a New Orleans-based battery startup, has just emerged from stealth mode, announcing that it raised $18.5 million from investors including Tony Fadell, who's credited with designing the iPod and founded the smart thermostat company Nest, in addition to Peter Thiel's Thiel Capital and Y Combinator.
Advano says its silicon-based material can improve the energy density of batteries by up to 40% and overcome some of the obstacles others have run into.
Experts say that might be possible, assuming the company is really able to overcome silicon's notorious challenges. If it does, the next step will be bringing the material to market.
"No one has ever been able to make it work before," Gene Berdichekvsy, the founder of Sila Nanotechnologies, a rival company, told Business Insider last year. "The problem in batteries isn't coming up with a cool new piece of science."
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