Ionic Materials Raises $65 Million For Revolutionary Polymer Electrolyte

APR 23 2018 BY MARK KANE 28

Ionic Materials, a company backed by Bill Joy and the automotive Alliance of Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi, raised $65 million in Series C funding round.

Ionic Materials

Investors are attracted by the promise of a revolutionary polymer electrolyte for solid-state batteries that offers high conductivity at room temperature.

Using the new electrolyte would enable production of next-generation batteries for electric cars (and other applications).

Ionic Materials encourages that its technology is unique, truly groundbreaking and looks forward to becoming a supplier for cell manufacturers.

“Ionic Materials today announced it has secured $65 million in a Series C financing round from a leading group of financial and strategic investors. The strategic investors include companies from the battery manufacturing, consumer electronic and electric vehicle ecosystem who will be working with the company to speed the development of its solid polymer electrolyte battery material. These funds will fuel Ionic Materials’ accelerated growth, support its hiring plans and help the company meet the significant market demand for its novel polymer electrolyte.”

“Current batteries are manufactured with an expensive and flammable liquid electrolyte and use costly active materials. By replacing the liquid system with Ionic Materials’ solid plastic polymer material, solid-state batteries that are safe, cheaper and operational at room temperature become possible for the first time. The special properties of Ionic Materials’ polymer electrolyte allow the use of high-energy materials and support lithium-ion cells with little to no cobalt in their cathodes. Further advancements made possible by Ionic Materials’ polymer will support very inexpensive and low-cost rechargeable alkaline batteries as well.”

“Ionic Materials will provide its polymer to the battery industry as an advanced materials supplier. Through this approach, it will reach the broadest market segments and establish a complete ecosystem of cell manufacturers serving the consumer electronic, electric vehicle and energy storage markets.”

Read Also: BMW Expresses Confidence In Solid-State Battery Tech

Mike Zimmerman, founder and CEO of Ionic Materials said:

“We are thrilled to have the ongoing support of venture capitalists, strategic investors and prominent individuals to solve a major energy problem: enabling safe, high-performance and cost-effective batteries for use across consumer electronics, electric transportation and grid storage. This funding round will allow us to add to our talented technical staff while continuing to engage and partner with companies interested in developing tomorrow’s solid-state battery technology today.”

Bill Joy, who has been a personal investor in all the rounds of financing and was a founding member of the Ionic Materials Board of Directors said:

“The Ionic Materials polymer is truly groundbreaking. It’s no surprise that so many of the leading companies in the battery industry and their key customers are working to incorporate the Ionic Materials polymer in their next-generation products. The many innovations in electrochemistry that the polymer unlocks will change the future of renewable energy. Products from our partners using Ionic Materials’ technology will lead the charge to safely power everyday products with eco-friendly, high-capacity batteries.”

Jan van Dokkum, Partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Chairman of the Ionic Materials Board of Directors said:

“Ionic Materials has created a new composition of matter that will be fundamental to the transformation of the battery as we know it. Over my 30-year career working in energy storage, Ionic Materials’ polymer stands out as a breakthrough innovation that is a critical element to the next generation of batteries. Numerous energy storage start-ups have made progress in the past, but the industry will be transformed by a novel material like Ionic Materials’ polymer which can replace liquid electrolytes with a solid alternative and help the industry get past the safety, cost and performance challenges it faces.”

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28 Comments on "Ionic Materials Raises $65 Million For Revolutionary Polymer Electrolyte"

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Sladjo

As we all know, the secret of high ev market share lies in batt technology… The sooner the breaktrough, the sooner ev market share will explode… If the batt issues (price, BMS, storage cap / kg and charging time) will be solved quickly, the ICE will be instant history.

doggydogworld

$65m for a material supplier? They’ll have to grab a big chunk of the market to justify that valuation.

They’ll use the cash to hire staff. No mention of buying production equipment. So a few years away, still?

CDAVIS

@doggydogworld said: “…No mention of buying production equipment…”
———————

Ionic Materials has well known individuals with good reputations backing the company so for sure it’s not another “magic battery” scam.

But Ionic Materials is a long ways away from having electrolyte material(s) that are ready to go into commercial battery production and even longer away from it being ready for EV battery production which requires a high testing/validation standard… so they still in development/testing mode.

As a side note, the Ionic Materials electrolyte being a polymer begs the question of if a battery with a polymer electrolyte should be classified as a “solid-state battery”?… its an unsettled gray area and debatable but many consider polymers a liquid with a very high viscosity.

CDAVIS

“Solid-state battery is a battery technology that uses both solid electrodes and solid electrolytes, instead of the liquid or **polymer** electrolytes found in Lithium-ion or Lithium polymer batteries.” source: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solid-state_battery

Pushmi-Pullyu

Well, Ionic Materials calls it a “plastic battery”, don’t they? So I suggest let’s just call it that, and skip the pointless semantic argument over whether or not a polymer battery is a “solid-state” battery.

CDAVIS

@Pushmi-Pullyu said: “…pointless semantic argument…”
——————

@Pushmi-Pullyu, That’s certainly music to the ears of the battery marketing guys that are working hard (apparently somewhat successfully) to redefine the meaning of a “solid-state” battery so that they can pass their polymer electrolyte battery as a solid-state battery… which it’s not.

See my below response comment to @Mint.

Pushmi-Pullyu

To quote Shakespeare:

What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet

My point is that what matters is the properties of this battery, and for purposes of discussion here, its usefulness for EV tech.

Whether or not you want to call Ionic Materials’ plastic battery a “solid state” battery has absolutely no effect on how well, or how poorly, it performs! It’s merely arguing over the label for the battery, not arguing about the battery.

Mint

Polymer is a term covering a colossal variety of materials. The common lithium-polymer (LiPo) battery you see today is a polymer matrix holding a liquid electrolyte, similar to how a hydrogel holds water. Ionic Materials, AFAIK, is using a conducting polymer, so it’s a big difference. I think it’s fair for them to use the term solid-state.

CDAVIS

@Mint said: “ . I think it’s fair for them [Iconoc Materials] to use the term solid-state.“
—————— .

As I said in my original comment “its an unsettled gray area and debatable”… in which case let me offer this counter view:

Within the battery industry they refer to the type of polymer battery Iconic Materials is talking about as a “Lithium-Polymer” not a “Lithium-Plastic” and not a “Plastic Battery”. The term “solid-state” battery was originally intended to exclude use of a liquid or polymer electrolyte but the battery marketing guys have successfully conflated the term “solid-state” in a way that their contorted definition would allow a frozen-state (thus solid) liquid electrolyte battery be a “solid-state” battery.

“Plastic” used in the field of polymers is a mechanical property of a polymer… A plastic polymer describes the mechanical property of the polymer as having within its stress-strain curve a period that the stress and strain are non-linear meaning the polymer material stretches.

Pushmi-Pullyu

In the real world, the meanings of words can and do change, or add new definitions over time. To claim this is wrong is committing the etymological fallacy.

If Ionic Materials’ battery becomes popular, and they describe it as a “solid-state battery”, then that’s what people are going to call it. If that means expanding the accepted meaning of the term “solid-state battery”, then that’s what will happen.

For example, the word “lady” originally meant “kneader of bread”. I doubt you’ll get very far trying to convince people that it should only be used in that context! 😉

CDAVIS

@ said: “In the real world, the meanings of words can and do change, or add new definitions over time. To claim this is wrong is committing the etymological fallacy.”
————

I don’t see where I claimed the meaning of words can’t change over time.

CDAVIS

If someone today decides it benefits them to promote broading the definition of “canine” to include both dogs and cats because they share many similar physical traits it’s not committing an etymological fallacy (as you suggest) to intellectually argue against the re-definition effort.

There are several emerging Lithium-Polymer players out there (including Iconic Materials) that each claim there special battery sauce is unique and revolutionary… the reason they are currently pushing to have polymers included in the “solid-state” battery classification is because “solid-state” battery has become the hot public buzz word to attract investors. And as I earlier commented it looks like they are succeeding in their re-definition effort.

Willem-Alexander

If I can hold it in my hand, and it does not flow out. It’s a solid. 😀

Glass is not even a solid, but solid enough for me.

CDAVIS

@Willem-Alexander said: “If I can hold it in my hand, and it does not flow out. It’s a solid”
—————-

Looks like the Tesla battery innards are sufficiently dry to meet your “solid” test… so does that then make the Tesla battery a solid-state battery?

What’s inside a Tesla Battery?:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CxS7XeIh_i4

Mint

The biggest evidence of this is their own slide at the top of the article. Below -10 degrees, this new electrolyte performs worse than current batteries. EVs will have to operate at -30 at least.

It probably won’t be a limitation for phones, though (which is where all the super-battery profits are anyway).

EVShopper

That’s what TMS systems are for.

Pushmi-Pullyu

Right. It’s true that (according to the graph above) this battery will perform worse than current EV batteries at below freezing temperatures. But so long as a battery heater is used, that shouldn’t be a serious problem for EV applications.

Mint

I’m not convinced that a heating a battery is a good use of energy. While charging, sure, get it warm to make it accept charge quicker, but while driving? It’d probably take 10-20kW to heat that much surface area 20 degrees above ambient. That kind of drain would have LEAF-like winter range loss or worse.

TJKR

I saw this battery in NOVA not too long ago and it was very impressive. It looked good for electronics but not sure about cars. Lots of unknowns though… C rating, power density, thermo properties, charge cycle curve.. etc. As Elon Musk said.. if you have a good battery, send him a sample. If this was a great battery and Tesla tested it he would get no problem getting funding straight from Tesla instead of the VC vampires.

Pushmi-Pullyu

It’s very unlikely that we will see this type of battery appear in EVs before consumer electronic devices, such as cell phones and laptop computers. I certainly hope it will eventually become the new standard for EV batteries, but very likely at first will be too expensive for that. And as you say, the tech may need more development to attain the properties needed for EV batteries, such as relatively high energy density, good power density, and long cycle life.

With this announcement, it looks like Ionic Materials’ plastic li-ion battery is — in baseball terms — advancing from first to second base, but they are still a long way from a home run for EV batteries!

Pushmi-Pullyu

Woot!

I’ve been singing praises for Ionic Materials’ breakthru polymer “plastic solid-state battery” for months or years now! But I’ve always cautioned that even the remarkably good laboratory demo they have shown is — to put it in baseball terms — just a solid first base hit. If they’re advancing to significant funding for development, then it looks like they’re at least taking a good run at 2nd base!

Go Ionic Materials!

Timmy

Been watching these guys (Mike Zimmerman, who was featured on the Nova special) and Ambri (Donald Sadoway, making a liquid metal battery for grid storage; also of TED Talk fame) for a while. Keeping fingers crossed.

K A CHEAH

PROF MIKE ZIMMERMAN SHOULD NOT ONLY IMPROVE ON CURRENT ITERATION OF THE BEST LITHIUM ION BATTERY BUT TO USE HIS SOLID STATE ELECTROLYTE FOR ALL TYPES OF ADVANCED BATTERY CHEMISTRY SAY MoS2 COATED LITHIUM METAL GRAPHENE SULPHUR/AIR SOLID STATE BATTERY THAT COULD GIVE NOT ONLY SAFETY, LONGEVITY BUT AS WELL AS 15 TO 20 TIMES THE ENERGY & POWER DENSITY OF THE PRESENT CURRENT BEST ITERATION OF LITHIUM ION BATTERY CHEMISTRIES SURELY OK?

Martin Winlow

“By replacing the liquid system with Ionic Materials’ solid plastic polymer material, solid-state batteries that are safe, cheaper and operational at room temperature become possible for the first time. ”

What are they on about? We have safe and cheap batteries that operate at room temp now…?!

Pushmi-Pullyu

Current EV batteries are not that safe. In fact, you can’t ship li-ion batteries either by air freight or by U.S. mail, because of the fire hazard.

If EV batteries were not a fire hazard, there would not be EV battery fires. Thank goodness battery fires are not that common — car fires in EVs are significantly rarer than gasmobile fires, on a per capita basis — but they do happen. Ionic Materials’ plastic battery is remarkable in that not only is it not a fire hazard, it’s actually fire retardant!

As far as cheap… No. EV batteries are definitely not cheap. If they were, then everybody would have switched from gasmobiles to EVs decades ago.

Mark.ca

Go on eBay and see just how many sellers are there that ship li-ion batteries every day. If what you say is true i’m sure there would be a crack down on internet selling.

mike_w

The graph shows conductivity going up with temperature. Why does the graph go up to 120 degrees C, do batteries get that hot?
Also the graph shows conductivity being lower than liquid electrolyte batteries in freezing temperatures. Will these batteries be unusable in cold climates?

“The special properties of Ionic Materials’ polymer electrolyte allow the use of high-energy materials and support lithium-ion cells with little to no cobalt in their cathodes.”
Less cobalt will lower the cost of materials. What benefit does cobalt provide in battery chemistry?

“Further advancements made possible by Ionic Materials’ polymer will support very inexpensive and low-cost rechargeable alkaline batteries as well.”
Rechargeable alkaline batteries have a low cycle life.
What applications do they have? Are they still sold in retail stores?

Mike S

As someone in mobile phone industry for 20 years, I can see a future, when they solve the extreme operating temperature, it’s going to be a great day… BUT this does not have to be about what goes in the car, rather it’s about what goes in the HOME! The back-up battery storage in the home, where extreme temps are not an issue has the potential to truly revolutionize the grid and solve the problems around infrequent power from any green source and the ability to (cheaply) store enough power to run off the grid for weeks at a time… I eagerly await the future!