Technology

Nuvvon has developed novel solid polymer electrolytes and truly solid-state batteries. This is the beginning of a roadmap to remove resource constrained minerals from battery cells. Starting with highly stable solid polymer electrolytes, the near-term deliverable is truly solid-state cells, then we open the door to lower cost and more abundant cathode and anode materials. We will define new limits as costs are reduced and energy density is increased.

FAQs

When did Nuvvon start and why haven’t we heard about it?

In 2017, Manveer and Karmjit Sidhu started Sidhu Laboratories with the objective of creating a truly solid-state battery based on electroactive polymers. In early 2022, Sidhu Laboratories combined with newly formed Nuvvon to commercialize the technology first developed at Sidhu Laboratories.

 

There are many companies claiming they have developed solid-state batteries. What sets Nuvvon apart?

Nuvvon developed a family of highly stable solid polymer electrolytes that are used both as the active separator and in the cathode. They are ionically conductive at room temperature and atmospheric pressure without liquids or gels.  They are compatible with a lithium metal anode and high voltage cathodes. They have high mechanical stability and can operate at high temperatures. And they can be manufactured using standard Li-ion processes. We don’t know of any other company that can make this set of claims.

Are your batteries safe?

Yes. Our cells have passed independent abuse testing by UL. This includes, overcharge, over discharge, short circuit and the thermal runaway test which puts a propane flame on the naked cell for 20 minutes. The batch of test cells only exhibited benign failure modes. As we develop and improve cell performance, we will repeat independent abuse tests.

Don’t solid polymer electrolytes generally perform poorly at room temperature?

Generally, yes.  However, Nuvvon’s novel polymer electrolytes have high ionic conductivities exceeding 1*10-3 S/cm at room temperature while maintaining excellent mechanical strength.

Aren’t polymer electrolytes generally limited to cathodes with low voltages?

Nuvvon successfully developed solid polymer electrolytic membranes capable of an electrochemical stability window up to 5.5V.  These membranes have demonstrated stability with high-voltage materials, such as LNMO.

Don’t solid-state batteries need external pressure to operate effectively?

Yes, in the case of oxide or sulfide solid-state electrolytes.  However, Nuvvon’s solid polymer electrolytes exhibit extremely low electrode-electrolyte interfacial impedances.  Consequently, our solid-state cells can be charged and discharged without the need for pressure normalized to the surface of the cell. This has been independently verified in single-layer and multi-layer formats.

Aren’t solid polymer electrolytes unstable when paired with lithium metal?

Not all polymer electrolytes are lithium stable.  But Nuvvon developed a deep understanding of the components of our solid polymer electrolytes versus dendrite formation in lithium-metal anodes. Through rigorous optimization, our polymer electrolytes are already capable of successfully cycling with lithium-metal anodes for hundreds of cycles.

Don’t solid electrolytes require small quantities of conventional liquid electrolytes to work?

Some claimed solid electrolytes still require liquids to operate.  However, Nuvvon has developed completely solid battery cells without any conventional liquid electrolytes or polyionic/ionic liquids in the cathode, interfaces, or within the polymer electrolyte separator.  Furthermore, we do not use inactive separator materials (e.g. PE, PP, PAN).

Have you actually manufactured your batteries and then tested them to see if they work?

Yes.  Nuvvon produced and tested more than 1,000 cells over the last 4-years.  Nuvvon also had LFP pouch cells independently produced on standard production equipment (see below).  Nuvvon constructed LNMO pouch cells and NMC coin cells at lab scale and tested them at room temperature and atmospheric pressure.

In December 2021 Nuvvon successfully commissioned the fabrication of solid-state battery cells using an independent standard Li-ion process. This involved mixing and coating using standard equipment then assembly on a standard line with roll-to-roll capabilities. The process was standard but simplified because electrolyte injection, degassing and aging were not required.

The polymer electrolyte was pre-mixed into an LFP cathode slurry and layered onto the aluminum current collector at room temperature and dried. Then the polymer electrolyte was layered onto the cathode, also at room temperature, to form the active separator layer. The cathode-with-separator was assembled with lithium coated copper and connector tabs into a pouch to form the cell. This was to independently demonstrate a standard, scalable and cost-effective method to manufacture our solid-state cells. Both single-and-multilayer lithium-metal pouch cells were independently fabricated then tested at atmospheric pressure and room temperature.

In the coming months, Nuvvon will commission the manufacture of LNMO and NMC solid-state pouch cells on an independent production line.

Is the performance data available for review?

Yes, our validated third-party performance data is available for review under NDA

What is your business model? Do you plan to manufacture batteries?

First, we will take battery production to the commercial prototype stage on a standard MWh line. Our giga-scale business model is to license novel polymer formulas to the largest polymer manufacturers and the electrolyte formulas to the largest electrode and cell manufacturers globally.

We also believe that there is a market for highly specialized and custom-made batteries used in military and aviation specialized markets.  We will co-develop customized battery production to the commercial prototype stage and then, similarly, consider licensing opportunities.

There are many battery companies developing new battery technologies. What are some of the key factors that distinguish Nuvvon?
  • We believe Nuvvon is the only player to use solid polymer electrolyte as the separator and in the cathode.
  • External Pressure. This is the biggest problem for most solid-state players: unable to operate without significant external pressure due to interfacial resistance. One company refers to 10-bar as low pressure, others are using the term “normal operating pressure” to de-emphasize this point. There are also players using liquids to reduce interfacial resistance and therefore reduce pressure
  • Wide Temperature Range. Other solid polymer electrolytes struggle to perform at room temperature (25℃) due to sluggish ionic kinetics. And those using liquids have temperature limitations (typically 40℃), thus requiring separate cooling mechanisms. Our polymer electrolytes are truly solid state—free of any liquids and gels—and we target an operating range of -20℃ to 100℃ for prolonged periods.
  • Compatibility with lithium metal. Unless the host-anode structure is replaced by lithium metal there will be little improvement in cell energy density. This is sometimes hidden by citing ‘system’ density. For example, removing the need for a cooling system is a real saving but it is misleading to suggest a higher battery energy density when the real energy density has not improved. A silicon anode host theoretically provides better energy density than a graphite anode host, but silicon swells significantly so accommodating this expansion can negate the improved volumetric density benefit, even if gravimetric energy density is improved.
  • Scalability. Our technologies are compatible with standard lithium-ion manufacturing processes and equipment. This means shorter scale-up times and lower capital expenditures. Removing liquids simplifies the standard process by eliminating liquid injection, degassing and aging. When solid state solutions boast multiple novel materials and technologies, it is more likely that non-standard processes and equipment are also required. Moving from lab scale to pilot line takes longer and the effort for giga-scale manufacturing increases exponentially.
  • Independent Verification. We recognize that battery start-ups often make overly optimistic performance claims. We routinely employ independent verification for safety, performance and production testing, using companies well respected and renowned in their field.
  • Materials Diversification. Nuvvon’s solid-state electrolytes are compatible with different cathode chemistries, including high nickel NMC811 and cobalt-free options such as traditional LFP and high-voltage LNMO. The key to this range of compatibility is our highly stable solid electroactive polymer.
  • Stable Supply Chain. Our technologies use readily available organic materials and do not require rare materials or supply-constrained components. Our solid polymer electrolytes work without lanthanum or germanium.
Where do you stand on protecting your intellectual property?

We have filed patent applications covering our key technologies.

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