European startups need a better battery.

European startups need a better battery.

High Energy Batteries: Powering the Future

Drone

Next year, a Dutch company called LeydenJar plans to revolutionize the world of batteries by introducing a new kind of battery technology that could significantly enhance the performance and range of drones and electric vehicles. The company’s innovative battery, which uses a silicon anode instead of the traditional graphite anode, promises flight times of nearly an hour for drones, an incredible 50% increase compared to current lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries. But that’s not all – LeydenJar believes their batteries could also allow electric cars to achieve a range of 800 to 900 kilometers, double the current market standard.

The battery industry is moving fast, and LeydenJar is just one of many European startups working tirelessly to improve battery technology and catch up with countries like China, which have made significant advancements in this field. High energy densities have become the holy grail for battery manufacturers, aiming to deliver batteries that offer substantially more power than existing Li-ion options. Energy density is measured in terms of watt hours (Wh) per unit of volume (liters) or mass (kilograms).

LeydenJar, fueled by €100 million in funding and a team of over 70 talented individuals, is currently testing their prototype batteries and has plans to open a large factory in the Netherlands in 2025. The factory aims to produce 100 megawatt hours of total battery storage annually, which is approximately the energy requirement of up to 100,000 homes.

What sets LeydenJar’s batteries apart is their use of a silicon anode, which can store ten times the amount of lithium ions as graphite. This results in the battery delivering up to 70% more energy per liter, reaching a yield of 1,350 Wh/l or 390 Wh/kg. This remarkable improvement, without an increase in weight, is made possible by LeydenJar’s innovative approach to solving a common problem faced by silicon anode batteries – excessive swelling. By growing tiny columns of silicon with spaces in between on copper foil, LeydenJar contains the swelling within the battery material itself, ensuring long lifespan and safety.

Silicon Anode

However, LeydenJar is not the only European startup pushing the boundaries of battery technology. LionVolt, another Netherlands-based company, is working on solid-state batteries that do not contain liquid lithium like traditional Li-ion batteries. Instead, the batteries use billions of tiny pillars through which ions flow, resulting in heightened surface area and increased energy density of 450 Wh/kg. What makes LionVolt’s batteries even more attractive is their ability to overcome the issue of dendrites, which are metal filaments that can cause shorts in batteries.

Solid-state Battery

Meanwhile, Bettery, a startup in Italy, is exploring a unique technology for flow batteries, which utilize semi-solid electrodes. By suspending particles within a fluid, Bettery prevents the particles from depositing into a sediment, ensuring longer lifespan compared to Li-ion batteries. Although flow batteries are less energy-efficient than Li-ion batteries, they offer other advantages that make them an intriguing option in the battery race.

On the other hand, The Batteries, a Polish company, has developed a solid-state device using a powder-based electrolyte, reducing production costs significantly. The company aims to create thin and flexible batteries that could power a range of devices, including sensors, wearables, IoT devices, and even self-contained emergency lighting. The Batteries is targeting an impressive energy density of around 1,200 Wh/L, and their technology is also safer, as it does not suffer from combustion or explosions, even when there are manufacturing flaws.

With all these groundbreaking developments, it is clear that Europe needs to innovate and adapt quickly to stay competitive in the battery tech race. Karl McGoldrick, the CEO and co-founder of LionVolt, emphasizes the importance of investing in novel battery technologies by supporting young firms. McGoldrick warns that if Europe fails to do so, they will be left relying on China for their battery needs.

In conclusion, the race for high energy batteries is on, and European startups like LeydenJar, LionVolt, Bettery, and The Batteries are leading the charge. With their innovative approaches, they are poised to revolutionize the drone and electric car industries by providing longer flight times and extended ranges. Europe must continue to invest in these novel technologies and embrace the spirit of innovation to secure its position in the battery tech market. The future is bright, and the power to reshape the way we consume and harness energy is within our reach.

Battery Tech