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Startup Sakti3 says its battery could double the range of a Tesla Model S

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It’s been quite awhile since we’ve heard anything from battery startup Sakti3. The seven-year-old University of Michigan spin-out has been heads down working on a high performance “solid-state” lithium ion battery and on Wednesday announced that it’s produced a battery that can double the range of an electric car (like a Tesla Model S) or double the usage time of a gadget like a wearable device.

On top of that, Sakti3 said its batteries are safer to operate than the current standard ones, and that down the road the batteries could be produced commercially for around $100 per kilowatt hour, Sakti3 CEO Ann Marie Sastry said in a statement on Wednesday. For comparison’s sake, Tesla has said at one point that it’s currently buying lithium ion batteries for its cars for somewhere between $200 and $300 per kilowatt hour.

Solid state batteries have solid electrodes and electrolytes, compared to traditional lithium ion batteries that use a liquid electrolyte. That means solid state batteries are less flammable and can be safer to operate. The Sakti3 team made this video of an engineer dropping hot soldering material onto the cell, and it continues to operate in a safe temperature range.

Solid state batteries also can have a higher energy density (the amount of energy stored for a set volume). Sakti3 said the energy density for this latest battery cell is 1100 watt hours per liter, which translates into a 9-hour usage time for something like a smartwatch (from 3.5 hours) or a 480 mile electric car range (from the 256 mile range of a Tesla).

Yeah, imagine an almost 500-mile range Tesla car. Crain’s Detroit Business called the company one of the top 10 most innovative partly because it received four patents last year around battery manufacturing, a solid-state propulsion systems and automotive hybrid tech. MIT Tech Review named them one of their top 50 most disruptive companies of 2012.

Sakti3 is still in the pilot stage and isn’t yet producing these batteries commercially at scale. But the company says it made its breakthrough energy dense battery on “fully scalable equipment.” The company is backed by $30 million in venture funding from Khosla Ventures, GM Ventures, Itochu, and a grant from the State of Michigan.

19 Responses to “Startup Sakti3 says its battery could double the range of a Tesla Model S”

  1. I haven’t heard of these guys yet, but I’m encouraged by the large number of companies and universities working on the problem.

    I collect battery breakthough articles and post them on the world’s most boring blog. If any of you are interested or need a cure for insomnia, just google halsbatteryblog.

  2. begum fouzia

    Introduction of a perfect name “vaporware” by Robert Stelling.
    Look at the funding source and the amount of bundles that has been used for a demonstration in a lab or media for a research outcome that has not been in commercial state yet. Backed by Khosla Ventures, GM Ventures, Itochu, and a grant from the State of Michigan– I heard once that Michigan is a bankrupt state?
    Never mind, at the expense of unbelievable amount of money, time, energy and other related materials if something promising showed up in a vapor state only, then the possibility for disappearance of that vapor is not very unlikely. After all, brand new scopes with new innovative ideas are always uprising at our neighborhood.

    • jack smith

      You do realize that the batteries in a Tesla are just a bunch of 18650 rechargeable flashlight batteries soldered together both in parallel and series? It’s a rather inefficient way to make a battery, at a minimum, at least 1/3 of the weight and total area of the battery pack is consumed just by the individual casing on each 18650, and likely more.

      A 56kWh battery from Tesla uses 6,831 NCR18650 Panasonic batteries in the “Battery pack”. Now that would technically give the Tesla a total of 74.9kWh of usable capacity, but Tesla underrates the capacity/kWh so as to reduce the visible effects of yearly battery degradation to the end consumer. At the usual rate of 10% capacity loss per year, it would take roughly 4 years before your average consumer would notice the slightest difference in range/capacity drop.

      Also as to be expected, the 85kWh battery pack uses almost 10,000 individual 18650 batteries, which is also why it weighs just under 5,000lbs, or 2&1/2 tons in an all aluminum vehicle that technically shouldn’t weigh more than 3,200lbs if it were a conventional ICE vehicle.

      The largest single improvement Tesla can possibly make is not to capacity or size, but weight. If Tesla could achieve the same capacity at half the weight, then both range and performance would be improved.

      As such, practically anything is more “viable” than the masses of 18650 cells that Tesla now uses….even the much more expensive process of custom manufacturing lithium ion cells to size.

      • @Jack Smith. If there were a more efficient way of building the battery pack for the Model S, Tesla would be doing it. The 85 kwh battery pack has 7,104 cells, no where near the “10,000” you claimed. Also, 4772 lbs. is not “5,000” lbs. I can think of a number of cars that weigh considerably more from BMW, Mercedes, Rolls, and Bentley. And none of these will perform as good as the Model S while getting the equivalent of 89 mpge.

      • @jack smith you are playing with numbers, my s85 has 7000 cells and after two years has shown absolutely no degradation at all, why would I worry, Tesla guarantees my battery pack for 8 years and unlimited miles, they have the best battery management system there is. And in 10 years if my battery pack has to be replaced the new one will be better and cheaper.

  3. John Bates, who invented the solid state technology proved that cells could be run through the solder flow process without damage back in the 90’s. Cymbet currently does this to mount solid state batteries to PCB’s along with other chips cutting the production costs. Annealing the cathode/electrolyte interface at 260 degC for 10 minutes actually inproves cell performance by dropping the impedance at that interface. If you choose the cathode correctly and control the charge discharge voltage these cells can be cycled at 180degC without damage. There is nothing new here at all.

  4. codenamezero

    What if I tell you… The moment that soldering material touches anything, it quickly cool itself off back to its solid state and is already cool enough to touch by hand…? Like really, the video is not a good way to test it, he should have just jam the iron itself on the battery, that would prove that it can withstand high temperature…

  5. They may have a good invention, but Sakti3 is a marketing lesson in how NOT to name your company. Names like that are a blunder and can have serious consequences in business perception. Go find a branding specialist and please rename yourselves.

  6. Robert Stelling

    Everybody has a better battery than Tesla is using! Of course, they’re not available yet… And in ten years, Tesla batteries will be more energy dense and less expensive! I also suspect that Tesla is doing more research on batteries than anyone else at the present time, and if a new, *viable* technology comes out, it is probably already being tested by them.
    Otherwise, I call vaporware. It’s easy to write an article.

    • jaime54

      tesla does no battery research .they buy batteries from Panasonic and they do the research and own the battery technology.However Samsung has the same technology