‘Double the energy density’: US gigafactory to make lithium-metal batteries to beat Li-ion
A new era for battery-powered airplanes, ships and trains could begin in the next few years, thanks to large-scale production of advanced lithium-metal batteries with double the energy density of conventional lithium-ion technology.
US start-up Lavle says it is building a gigafactory that will manufacture the next-generation battery modules at scale in the US by the end of 2023, with a final production capacity of about 7GWh a year.
The multi-million-dollar funding for the 1.5 million sq ft (14-hectare) facility — the location of which is expected to be announced in the coming months — is “pretty much in place”, Recharge has been told.
Doubling the energy density of lithium-ion technology will create a wealth of opportunities, explains chief technology officer Ben Gully.
“If you have an electric car with a 300-mile range, you swap out the battery for one the same size and weight and now you have a 600-mile range,” explains chief technology officer Ben Gully. “Or if you have a 300-mile range and that’s all you need, then you can cut the weight of your battery in half, and that gives you better performances.
“[The energy density] conceivably opens up whole new applications and battery use cases that we can’t even entertain right now.”
Lavle (pronounced “Lav-lee”) says its lithium-metal batteries will be able to achieve per-kWh cost parity with conventional lithium-ion once a supply chain is established and the cells are manufactured at scale.
But the company is not keen to get involved in the highly competitive, low-margin electric-car battery sector just yet.
“It’s in other markets where the benefit [of the energy density] is a game changer and opens up feasible products and systems that wouldn’t otherwise be possible,” Gully tells Recharge.