Sion Power – Production Of Breakthrough 500 Wh/kg Cell Starts This Year

MAR 21 2018 BY MARK KANE 26

Sion Power, the Arizona-based company acquired by BASF in 2012, announced that production of its groundbreaking Licerion lithium batteries will begin in late 2018 at its Tucson facility.

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

Sion Power developed 20 Ah cells (10 cm x 10 cm x 1 cm) with metallic lithium thin film anode (and traditional lithium-ion intercalation cathode) that substantially increases energy density compared to what’s available on the market today:

  • 500 Wh/kg
  • 1,000 Wh/L
  • 450 cycles

The number of  charging cycles is lower than in current electric car batteries, but it’s partially offset by the high energy density (so a higher capacity pack needs less full cycles).

Sion Power targets unmanned aerial vehicles and electric vehicles among many applications and envisions first deliveries to selected partners by the end of 2018.

We are not sure whether the capabilities and prices will be competitive for electric cars as there is no spec sheet available, but with backing from BASF it’s at least credible.

“Sion Power, a leading developer of lithium battery technology, announced today production will begin on their patented Licerion rechargeable lithium metal battery in late 2018 from its Tucson facility. The Licerion rechargeable lithium metal technology will offer the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) and electric vehicle (EV) markets an unparalleled 500 Wh/kg, 1,000 Wh/L, and 450 cycles when released.”

“Individual Licerion cells, with dimensions of 10 cm x 10 cm x 1 cm, have a capacity of 20 Ah and offer the highest combination of energy density and specific energy available. At the core of Licerion technology is a protected metallic lithium thin film anode with multiple levels of physical and chemical protection to enhance the safety and life of lithium metal anodes. These anodes are paired with traditional lithium-ion intercalation cathodes.”


Tracy Kelley, Chief Executive Officer of Sion Power said:

“Over the last decade Sion Power, and our research partner BASF, have strategically focused on meticulous research and development of a next generation lithium battery. The result of our team’s efforts will be seen in a safe lithium metal battery that is in a class by itself. We are on track to deliver product to a select group of partners by the end of 2018.”

Categories: Battery Tech


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26 Comments on "Sion Power – Production Of Breakthrough 500 Wh/kg Cell Starts This Year"

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How much will the kWh cost?

exactly what I want to know.

Would iPhone buyers pay $20 to double their battery life with no increase in size? I think that’s a no-brainer, so let’s say the manufacturer gets $14 for making a 14Wh battery (the plus and X are even bigger).

Apple sells over 200M phones a year, so that single client can bring $2B per year in revenue at a price of $1000/kWh, plus you’d have Samsung etc knocking on the door as well.

Such super-batteries may find their way into exotic EVs, but don’t expect them in the mainstream EV market. Just imagine Sion laughing when an EV makers asks if they can cut prices for them by 85%…

But I guess it’s fun to dream about 500Wh/kg in a decade or so.

Seems like 450 cycles is very short. So for someone on a long commute needing a full charge, this battery would be done in perhaps a year and a half? Or would it just be down to 70-80% of original capacity? How does that compare with today’s EV offerings? In density? Wonder how discharge rate compares for supercar applications?

Those are deep discharge cycles. Those never happen in EV.

Look at the chart. They seem to be saying they double the density of The low cost, longer lasting, less volatile (safer) LFP batteries.

If their secret sauce is the anode then it likely doesn’t change the material cost, weight, or volume much.

If a cycle is equal to 600 miles of range, 450 cycles would be about 200,000 miles if you factor in the slow drop from 100% to 80% over that time. If range has dropped to 80%, it’s still 480 miles on a full charge. Not too bad.

Would be good to know what their benchmark “cycle” is that has a predicted lifespan of 450.

Is that 0-100%, 20%-100%, 20%-80% SOC?

What charge rate? 7KW, 50KW, 150KW?

What happens after 450 cycles? <25% capacity loss?

If 20%-80% SOC @ 7KW = 450 cycles, then it's not ready for use in automobiles.

I’m not sure that “lithium ion” is the correct term here what with them using lithium metal. Do they think they will scare people off with a lithium battery (rechargeable)?

The more important measure here is the energy density (Wh/l). The best lithium ion cells are about 700 Wh/l, so it’s a substantial improvement.

The cycle life is disappointing. Back in 2016 they were already at 350 cycles, so the improvement there is somewhat marginal. I doubt this will be offered in cars, but might make light aircraft more feasible.

450 cycles are complete charge to complete discharge. That’s not something most people would do that often. Especially if the packs are larger. Imagine a 120kWh pack in a Bolt – that’s 500 miles. Also most manufacturers would probably setup the battery in such a way that you couldn’t fully charge/discharge.

700wh/l is not the best. There are batteries with 800wh/l.

But most importantly is we need to know the charging profile. How well it does in shallow cycles. How quickly it can be recharged and etc.

It’s still a lithium-ion battery: the energy is transferred by moving lithium ions between anode and cathode. The difference is just that the ions are stored in the anode by metal plating instead of intercalation.

Planes need this energy density, and they can probably live with a higher price and having only 450 cycles because of the other high costs of flying.

More interested in thermo properties of the cell. How much cooling does this require? 500 Wh/kg is fantastic but if you have to increase the weight by 25-50% for BMS and cooling, it’s marginal.

“Powered by lice” – great branding, guys.

They didn’t mention specific power, which means it’s lower than current cells. These new, high density chemistries tend to have lower cycle lives and/or lower specific power. They’ll also be higher cost for several years.

That’s why I’ve been saying Tesla Roadster2 is based on next-gen cells. High specific energy makes a 200 kWh pack possible for a high priced car. Low specific power and cycle life make it necessary.

That’s also why I’ve been saying Tesla Semi does NOT use nextgen cells. High cost and low cycle life don’t work for the Semi. Not even close.

Specific power is not an issue with modern BEVs. While we don’t know what these new cells will do, I’d be very surprised if it were inadequate.

Specific power is an issue at the very high end, e.g. Roadster2.

It’s also an issue for fast-charging at all levels of the market.

EV manufactures should make it easy to swap out modules that fall below specification. Then cycle life would not be such an issue.

Yes but such flexibility would require a more complex pack and therefore more expensive

Unless some cells are defective, capacity loss occurs more or less evenly. Swapping individual modules is completely useless in most cases.

Wow, 500 Wh/kg is crazy good if true. 450 cycles of 100% DOD isn’t bad at all. Next question is how much cooling it needs

SolidEnergy sells 450 Wh/kg cells today (1157 Wh/l). They only manufacture in small quantity and at more typical discharge rates (e.g. 0.5C) specific energy drops to 415 Wh/kg.

They show about 10% degradation after only 120 cycles, so no good for EVs yet. But you can actually buy them now. They plan to scale up production of small cells for consumer electronics this year and 450 Wh/kg BEV cells in 2020.

“You could actually buy them now”.
Yeah, barely. They are producing 5000 cells per months, you could be lucky to get a couple of cell for testing but that’s about it. Mass production will start in 2019 according to their homepage.

But it’s a start at least, I’m glad to see that things are moving in the battery space.

450 cycles is dead. 350 cycles is 75%
and this is for the low power LFP version, The high end NMC version has cycle capacity of 120 cycles to 80%.

Their market is aerial where energy/weight is paramount and cost is no object.

Yeah, but that was from January, 2016. I certainly hope they have made some improvements since then.