Northvolt recently announced the acquisition of the U.S.-based battery technology company Cuberg founded in 2015 as a spin out of Stanford University. Financial details of the transaction were not released.
Cuberg is engaged in the development of next-generation lithium-ion battery cells that combines a new "groundbreaking liquid electrolyte" with a lithium metal anode.
According to the press release, those new cells will offer high energy density, lower price point, better performance and increased safety.
An important thing from a commercialization standpoint is that Northvolt expects to produce those new cells using existing lithium-ion manufacturing lines for electromobility solutions. The plan is to start with electric aviation and then move to electric vehicles.
"Critically, Cuberg’s technology addresses the biggest challenge with emerging battery technologies, which is effective manufacturing scale-up. Cuberg has already demonstrated compatibility of its technology with the existing lithium-ion manufacturing ecosystem, which minimizes time to market and enables rapid commercial deployment in the electromobility market. The new technology will be deployed at scale in electromobility markets within three years, beginning with electric aviation."
The energy density of the Cuberg cells is described as 70% higher than "comparable lithium-ion cells designed for high-rate electric aviation applications.". The production version is expected to offer more than 1,000 Wh/L in 2025.
On the company's website, we found some additional numbers - from an independent testing and verification process conducted by the U.S. Department of Energy - like 369 Wh/kg and an output of 2,000 W/kg, which are really good results. However, the cycle life is just 370 at C/2 current, which is a rather low load (for electric cars).
"Cuberg’s batteries, based on its breakthrough electrolyte technology for lithium metal anode, are optimally designed for commercialization. Validated by trusted third parties the cells deliver more than 70 percent increased range and capacity versus comparable lithium-ion cells designed for high-rate electric aviation applications. Building on this foundation, Northvolt and Cuberg will mature its automotive and industrial product portfolio with the ambition to industrialize cells in 2025 that exceed 1,000 Wh/L, while meeting the full spectrum of automotive customer requirements."
Anyway, the company already has multiple investors and financial backers including Boeing HorizonX Ventures, Activate.org, the California Energy Commission, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the TomKat Center at Stanford, while the list of customers (for a small series of special cells, we believe) include Boeing, BETA Technologies, Ampaire and VoltAero.
Based on the Cuberg acquisition, Northvolt will now establish an advanced technology center in Silicon Valley (they are actively hiring by the way) to accelerate the lithium metal cell development and optimize the technology for automotive applications.