Coreshell Technologies, a California Startup Working to Solve Lithium-Ion Battery Degradation Raises $4 Million – FutureCar

Coreshell Technologies, a California Startup Working to Solve EV Battery Degradation Raises $4 Million

Author: Eric Walz   

The typical lithium ion batteries that power electric cars are quite durable. However they still tend to degrade over time, which eventually reduces their ability to retain a charge, as well as a reduction in the battery’s energy density and service life.

For battery manufacturers, reducing battery degradation will improve the overall performance of lithium ion batteries, which are found in many of the world’s electronic devices, including electric vehicles and engergy storage systems.

One California startup named Coreshell Technologies is working to solve this problem and the company just raised $4 million to continue its research to improve lithium ion batteries.

Coreshell Technologies, founded in 2017, is working to improve what’s described as “electrode surface instability” in a lithium-ion battery, which is directly responsible for loss of energy during cycling. In addition to causing a loss in performance, battery degradation ultimately leads to higher costs.

The company said the $4 million was raised in a round led by Entrada Ventures. Other backers included Baruch Future Ventures, Tsingyuan Ventures, UC Berkeley’s Skydeck, the California Energy Commission, Sema Translink, and Alchemist Accelerator, Coreshell said.

Speeding up Solid-Electrolyte Interphase (SEI) Formation in a Battery

The company developed a unique nanolayer coating that coats the electrodes to protect against chemical reactions that led to reduced battery capacity.  When its applied to the electrodes of lithium ion batteries, the coatings enable increased voltage range & energy density, the company says. 

More specifically, the coating also helps to speed up solid-electrolyte interphase (SEI) formation processing. 

SEI is a process in which a microscopic coating forms on the electrode surfaces inside the  battery from the decomposition of the electrolytes, which are created from cycles of recharging and discharging. It can be considered as a new battery’s “break-in process,” which helps batteries maintain their charge.

The SEI formation process occurs as lithium ions and electrons travel between the positive and negatively charged cathode and anode materials. While the process of electrons moving across the conductive materials of the battery is required to create energy inside a battery, the SEI formation is considered a defect of modern batteries by contributing to electrode surface instability, which leads to battery degradation over time, the company says.

The faster SEI formation process as a result of the Coreshell’s nanocoating blocks some of the electrons, while still allowing the lithium ions to move freely across the cathode and anode materials without getting “stuck.” It can speed up the break in process using a lower percentage of lithium, a material automakers are actively working to reduce in their EV batteries.

Coreshell technologies says its first first product will create a cost per /kWh savings of up to 30% for today’s batteries. 

Future products in development will enable the next-generation battery materials including silicon anodes, high-energy cathodes and solid-state electrolytes, all of which can lead to batteries that have more than twice the energy density at half the cost when compared to the current lithium ion batteries without the nanolayer coating.

One challenge for Coreshell Technologies is figuring out a way to apply the nano-coating during the standard manufacturing process of lithium ion batteries. 

The company’s co-founder and CEO Jonathan Tan told Reuters that the challenge is to figure out how to apply the coating in a liquid form as the thin electrode layers are manufactured on “roll-to-roll” machinery that resembles a newspaper printing press.

“It has to fit into that style of processing” to be economically feasible, Tan said. “And that’s not something that anyone has been able to do before with these coatings.”

Coreshell is working with German chemical company BASF, a major supplier of high energy density cathode active materials in batteries, to test its coatings with BASF materials. A BASF spokeswoman said to Reuters that Coreshell’s coatings have demonstrated performance improvements over standard materials.

Coreshell Technologies presented their battery technology in February at UC Berkeley’s Skydeck’s annual demo day. 

Tan told the audience that his company was able to use “technology and technical expertise from UC Berkeley to solve something critical in the clean energy space.”

In 2019, Coreshell Technologies won the Hello Tomorrow Global Challenge award, which recognizes the best deep-tech startups in the energy space. The company was recognized for its work on battery technology to improve the energy density, safety, as well as the costs of energy storage.

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