Sion Power Achieves 400 Wh/kg, 700 Wh/L Lithium-Sulfur Batteries

2 months ago by Mark Kane 13

Sion Power Licerion

Sion Power Licerion

Sion Power announced its next generation battery performance results, using its patented Licerion technology designed for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) and also electric vehicles (EV) – although we assume specifically for premium performance electric vehicles, as pricing on premium battery cells often comes at, well…a premium.

Sion Power's next generation cells: 400 Wh/kg, 700 Wh/L and 350 cycles under 1C discharge condition

Sion Power’s next generation cells: 400 Wh/kg, 700 Wh/L and 350 cycles under 1C discharge condition

The 20 Ah lithium-sulfur cells energy density levels are pretty high, while life cycles seem to be acceptable (although it could still be better):

  • 400 Wh/kg
  • 700 Wh/L
  • 350 cycles under 1C discharge condition

Sion Power, after being acquired by BASF, is now also expanding its facilities in Tucson, Arizona, in order to move away from just developing battery technology, and move into small-scale production.

Sion Power’s technology is worth watching, as even LG Chem acquired the licenses1717 to several patents covering batteries, cells, separators and electrolyte members comprising boehmite earlier this year.

“Licerion® technology, a product of Sion Power’s technical collaboration with BASF, the world’s largest chemical company, covers a wide range of chemistries designed to perform with sulfur-based and lithium ion-based cathodes. All Licerion® products incorporate Sion Power’s unique protected lithium metal anodes (PLA), unique electrolyte formulations and engineered cathodes. The graphic is a schematic representation of Sion Power’s Licerion® cell construction.

Sion Power’s Licerion®-Sulfur products are being commercialized via its partnership with Airbus Defence and Space. An earlier version of the technology was employed in setting a world record for the longest duration unrefueled flight for a high altitude pseudo-satellite (HAPS).

Sion Power Licerion

Sion Power Licerion

Based on Sion Power’s 20 Ahr cell design, Sion Power’s Licerion®-Ion system has achieved 400 Wh/kg, 700 Wh/L and 350 cycles under 1C discharge conditions. Details of this remarkable achievement will be presented by Dr. Yuriy Mikhaylik, Sion Power’s Director of Materials, at the upcoming ECS meeting in Honolulu, October 2-7, 2016.

Sion Power is in the process of expanding its facilities in Tucson, Ariz. for the production of prototype large format Licerion® Ion cells. These cells will be available by December 2017. In the interim, Sion Power is evaluating potential volume manufacturing partners to supplement in-house capacities.”

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13 responses to "Sion Power Achieves 400 Wh/kg, 700 Wh/L Lithium-Sulfur Batteries"

  1. Pinewold says:

    Can anybody compare this to Tesla and LG Chem?

    1. Wraithnot says:

      The cells in the original Model S pack were rated at 250 Wh/kg as per an Elon Musk tweet. Model 3 cells are supposed to have a ~30% improvement.

      1. protomech says:

        The 30% improvement was in the context of the pack, not the cell.

        If the original 85 kWh Model S pack weighed ~550 kg, then a 55 kWh Model 3 pack (or whatever) would weigh around 270 kg.

        Some of the improvement in weight is due to improvements in packaging, others due to improvements in cell density.

    2. Ambulator says:

      The energy density (Wh/L) is about the same as Tesla, but the cycle life is probably half or worse. The specific energy (Wh/kg) is better. The materials in the Sion cells are probably substantially cheaper in bulk.

      For now, airplanes and race cars look like the market. If they can build the volume up enough they should get cheaper. I hope the cycle life improves by then.

  2. I can compare that I recall Elon suggesting when we get to 400 wH/Kg, we (or, He!) could do Electric Flight at acceptable performance levels, so Tesla must yet be less than that, or Elon would not have presented it as a future posability.

    As I remember, the raw cells Tesla uses peaked at 270 Wh/Kg, but after building the packs, the added systems and packaging bring the pack level value down to about or under 200 Wh/Kg: something like 170 Wh/Kg.

    However, while these cell reach the 400 Wh/Kg level, the cycle life is quite low for aircraft use yet, at just 400 cycles to 80% of original energy! It would be grat to see at least 1,000 cycles before we build general purpose aircraft with these, and having 2,000 cycles would realy make a potential dent then, since 1C Cycles = 1 Hour use, and light Aircraft Piston Engines usually do expensive Major Overhauls after 2,000 Hours!

    Turbines, on the other hand, usually have a low number of at least 3,500 hours, and some go over 5,000 Hours berween Hot Section Overhauls.

    I can imagine these cells in the EHANG 184 private 8 motor quad copter giving 60 minutes run time, as an excellent personal shuttle/autonomous drone!

    Personally, I would like to see what these could do, combined with the new 350 kW / 400 HP Motor that Siemens built for aircraft currently in flight test in an Aerobatic Monoplane! Then add that as an optional power plant for the Van’s Aircraft RV-10 4 Seat Aircraft Kit Plane!

    1. pjwood1 says:

      Is “80% of capacity” = DOD?

  3. David Murray says:

    400 cycles isn’t too bad for a pure EV with 200+ miles of range. Because, realistically, the batteries won’t get cycled much with typical driving. Not only that, but with a battery pack that large, the batteries won’t even be cycled at 1C because it would probably take 3-4 hours of driving to actually cycle a large pack. However, for a low-range PHEV they would be terrible because they’d barely last a year before the cycling would kill them. That’s one big advantage that larger battery packs have, that they can sacrifice some cycle life and power density for energy density. PHEVs have the exact opposite need.. They need lots of power in a small space, and long cycle life.

  4. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

    The article says:

    “…life cycles seem to be acceptable (although it could still be better):”

    “…350 cycles under 1C discharge condition”

    This definitely does not match what I know about li-ion batteries used in EVs, or at least doesn’t match what I think I know.

    The rule of thumb for EV batteries is they need to withstand at least 2000 cycles before degrading to 80% of original capacity.

    If I read it right, then a “1C” rate means batteries which start fully charged, will be fully discharged* in 1 hour at the 1C rate. So it’s certainly true that under normal conditions, a BEV battery (or even a long-range PHEV battery, such as the one in the Volt) won’t be called upon to provide that high a power, or at least not for long. You’re not going to fully drain a long-range EV’s battery pack in only 1 hour of driving.

    But what about fast-charging? We certainly do expect an EV battery pack to be able to be fully charged, or at least nearly fully charged, in only 60 minutes of fast-charging.

    Now, that’s not to say there won’t be any market for these batteries. There are certainly applications where the limitation of only a few hundred cycles before replacement is needed, won’t be a major obstacle to the customer buying them. For example, an unmanned underwater vehicle might well benefit from batteries of this type. Military and spacecraft applications are also places where cost is of far less importance than it is in mass-produced PEVs (Plug-in EVs).

    But I will be very surprised indeed if any auto maker puts these batteries into a mass produced PHEV or BEV.

    *One might quibble over the term “fully discharged” here, as nobody designs an EV to charge its battery cells to 100% or to discharge them to 0%. There needs to be some safety margin at the top and bottom to prevent premature battery aging. Call it somewhere between 90-95% discharging, rather than 100%, to allow for this safety margin.

    * * * * *

    David Murray said:

    “400 cycles isn’t too bad for a pure EV with 200+ miles of range. Because, realistically, the batteries won’t get cycled much with typical driving.”

    That does not match real-world data or real-world experience. One of the reasons that Tesla cars have such a high resale value is that Tesla cars are designed to “baby” the batteries, to ensure long life. Contrariwise, the Leaf has taken major hits to its reputation because some of them have experience premature battery fade. As a result, the resale value of a Leaf is abysmal. Yet even those Leaf battery packs affected by premature aging can be expected to last more than 350 cycles.

    While it might be theoretically possible to get away with building a BEV with a battery pack that had an expected lifespan of only 350 cycles, the reality is that it wouldn’t be able to compete for long in the market.

    1. mhpr262 says:

      Musk guaranteed the earliest investors a cycle life of the Model S battery of 1000 (full) cycles before the battery had degraded to 70%. That seems to have been enough for them.

  5. Jake Brake says:

    400 wh/kg is very good, 350 cycles is pretty crappy even for a long range bev. I would hope at lower c rates like c/3 and c/4 the cycle life would go up to 1000+. Calendar life? Fast charge is mediocre. Volumetric energy density isnt that great considering the high gravimetric energy density. I wish them well!

  6. Pat75014 says:

    Cycling numbers are confusing. I don’t get how we get from cycling at CELL level to Cycling at PACK level. Then I understand the larger the pack the less full cyclings will be required. If I take a maximum 100KWH Tesla pack and drive 60Km # 37.5M per day average, requiring # 12.5KWH per day then I could # full charge once per week or Half charges twice a week, to limit battery cyclings, expecting this to be better than charging every night but not sure. In 20 Years there are 1040 weeks. So I would need a minimum 1000 x cycles. But my bet is that in the future I’ll want V2G that will # double my cycles when the car will power the home during the evening.So I would feel a lot safer with 2K to 3K cycles even on 100KWH. But for those with 10KWH packs (German PHEVs in Electric-turbo concept), they will need to full charge at least once per day, means 365 cycles per year hence would need 3650 cycles to last 10Y or 7300 for 20Y. HUGE ISSUE !

  7. Pinewold says:

    Thanks for all the replies! If these 400wh/kg cells takes four years to commercialize, they will be right on time for 5% improvement of Model 3 cells.

    Anybody know where the Bolt battery falls?

  8. SJC says:

    You can find out by using a search engine instead of asking others to do your work for you.

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