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New Dominion Enterprises Inc. (NDE) is seeking to commercialize a new inorganic electrolyte additive for lithium batteries that will stabilize organic lithium-ion battery electrolytes. Existing lithium-ion batteries are inherently unstable and are prone to fire or explosion. Several high-profile examples of damage caused by lithium-ion batteries include Samsung’s Note 7 mobile phone, Sony’s laptop batteries, and Boeings “cockpit smoke” from overheating batteries underneath the cockpit. NDE claims to solve these problems by using inorganic electrolyte additives to replace 25% of the organic materials and improve the thermal performance and chemical stability of the lithium battery electrolytes. Furthermore, the inorganic additive significantly increases the number of operational duty cycles compared to existing lithium battery technology.
Dr. Mason Harrup, one of NDE’s co-founders, developed the technology while he was at Idaho National Labs (INL). The company plans to license the additive to a large chemical manufacturer who already has the necessary production capabilities. The processed inorganic electrolyte will then be sold to battery manufacturers to replace a portion of organic electrolytes in the manufacturer’s batteries.
The technology has significant economic potential as it partially solves the key issues currently faced by lithium-ion battery producers. The primary usage for this technology will be commercial, but Department of Defense uses are also significant. IBIS World reports that the primary DOD applications for battery technology are transportation and communications equipment. There are challenges to commercialization including, securing the license to the technology from INL, securing funding for testing and the time requirements for a validation test of the technology. Despite these drawbacks, the potential of the technology to have a significant impact on the battery market makes it worth considering for the testing stage of commercialization.
The technology has been successfully tested by Dr. Harrup and the process has been developed and refined so it is ready for both third-party testing as well as scaling to production levels.