Non-lithium battery cathode manufacturing

K. Venturini, C. Ashfield, David Shock
Revolution Power Inc. d/b/a Powerit,
United States

Keywords: metal-air battery, electrode manufacturing, alkaline battery, non-lithium


Decarbonizing the transportation sector requires integrating renewable energy power generation, e.g., wind and solar, with electric vehicles and the expansion and strengthening of the power grid to support their power-intensive, dislocated charging needs. Lithium-ion batteries are technically mature but fail to satisfy the electrification of the transportation sector due to the sheer scale necessary to disrupt incumbent fossil fuel dominance. Lithium-ion batteries suffer from low performance and supply chain issues that make them cost prohibitive to affect the size and scale of impending energy storage needs. Therefore, new and improved energy conversion devices, including batteries and fuel cells, are getting a fresh look because they potentially offer performance enhancements at substantially reduced cost when compared to lithium-ion batteries. One area of recent interest includes rechargeable metal-air batteries which offer the potential for increased performance at a fraction of the cost of lithium-ion batteries at scale. Research and development has confirmed these technologies offer the performance required for energy storage applications. However, manufacturing infrastructure for these technologies is nascent and immature when compared to lithium-ion, representing a barrier to their commercialization and downstream impact on their useful grid electrification and decarbonization. Revolution Power Inc. d/b/a/ Powerit owns and operates a specialty battery electrode manufacturing facility in Mesa, AZ. The facility produces a polytretrafluoroethylene (PTFE) and carbon-based oxygen reduction reaction (ORR) extruded cathode for batteries, flow cells and fuel cells. The facility is one of only several of its kind in North America. Powerit bridges the critical integration from lab bench scale to full-scale manufacturing that is currently missing or hard to find domestically. This ability shortens time-to-market and increases the probability of success for upstarts with nascent, but promising, non-lithium energy storage solutions that they intend to productize. The cathode component of metal-ion batteries and fuel cells are highly variable and manufacturing scaling is finicky and non-linear, requiring skill and close collaboration to increase the probability of success and shorten overall time-to-market. Powerit purchased the necessary equipment between 2017 and 2019 in order to onshore manufacturing for its own Zinc-air primary battery product. The company then successfully integrated its R&D development into pilot scale manufacturing. Additionally, Powerit is developing a unique, semi-solid state Aluminum-ion battery. The Company intends to integrate the cathode manufacturing for this battery product within this facility at the time of technical maturity. Lastly, the Company is working with E-Zinc (Toronto, CA) to integrate their bench-scale zinc-air battery cathode into manufacturing for purposes of deploying a grid-stabilization energy storage product. Powerit has unique non-lithium battery know-how and manufacturing experience and intends to collaborate with other entities that require manufacturing pilot integration for their groundbreaking, non-lithium battery technologies in order to massively accelerate the electrification of the transportation sector.