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DOE Funds Local Efforts to Develop Next Gen Batteries

EVS: Quest for Faster Charging, Cold Weather Resilience

In 2021, President Biden announced an ambitious goal to combat climate change – half of all automobiles sold in the U.S. to be electric vehicles (EVs) by the year 2030. To reach that goal, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is funding projects though the Electric Vehicles for American Low-Carbon Living (EVs4ALL) program that aim to make EV batteries last longer, charge faster, perform efficiently in freezing temperatures – and have better overall range retention.

Jennifer Granholm
U.S. Secretary of Energy

“Electric vehicle sales in America have tripled since the start of this administration and by addressing battery efficiency, resiliency and affordability, the projects announced today will make EVs attractive to even more drivers,” said  U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

“This is a win-win for our efforts to fight climate change and power America’s clean transportation future with technologies produced by researchers and scientists right here at home,” Granholm added.

On Jan. 10, the DOE announced that two San Diego-based companies – South 8 Technologies and TyFast Energy – were chosen to be included in a group of 12 companies and research institutions that will split $42 million in grant funding. The announcement was made by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy David Turk at a press event and tour earlier this month of South 8’s facility in the San Diego Science Center in Pacific Beach.

LiGas Technology

South 8 was awarded $3,152,000 from the DOE to further develop high-power Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery cells with the capacity to charge rapidly using a novel liquefied gas (LiGas) electrolyte technology. The battery cells will harness the inherent safety, high power, and low temperature advantages of the LiGas electrolyte in combination with a high energy, low cost, and cobalt-free lithium nickel manganese oxide (LNMO) cathode.

Cyrus Rustomji
Co-founder & CEO
South 8 Technologies
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“We’re really excited about this opportunity. It’s a prestigious award so we’re very fortunate to be selected for it,” said South 8 Co-founder and CEO Cyrus Rustomji.

Rustomji pointed out that advancing Li-ion technology for automobiles is overdue because the batteries were initially only designed for consumer electronics like cell phones and laptops.

“It’s kind of crazy to think about just taking these consumer electronic batteries and stacking them up and thinking it’s going to push a car forward and check all the boxes we’re used to for our gasoline vehicles,” he said. “So everyone’s pushing towards this next generation battery that really does have all the resilience, can fast charge and is low enough cost that it can come to cost parity with your old gasoline vehicle.”

South 8’s technology does “exceptionally good job at checking all those desired boxes,” he added.

Rustomji said South 8 battery cells will eventually charge in the same amount of time it takes to fill a tank of gas and will be able to operate in any climate.

“It has a world record in terms of temperature operation, so all-weather resilience is not an issue for us,” he said. “We can operate in everything from the coldest weather nights in Alaska to the hottest summer days in Arizona, no sweat.”

South 8’s technology also promises a “huge step up” in terms of safety and “enables a number of cost reduction areas” for EV batteries, he added.

Jungwoo Lee
Co-founder & CTO
South 8 Technologies

With the DOE grant award money, South 8 is funding a project with a German automotive group “to really understand what are the requirements necessary for these next generation batteries,” said South 8 Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Jungwoo Lee.

South 8 will be doing the R&D on the EV battery while also developing its pilot scale production capability for small device batteries, which are already prototyped and ready to deliver to customers in the company’s initial markets.

“This isn’t just an R&D project for this theoretical future EV,” Lee said. “It’s a robust solution that can be easily scaled and deployed so that we can then meet the needs of the EV market once we get there.”

LVO Technology

G.J. La O’, co-founder and CEO of TyFast Energy, said the company was awarded the $2,823,199 DOE grant money to develop its combination of electrode materials and electrolyte chemistry because it will enable a high-energy density, ultrafast-charging battery with a long cycle life that can also operate efficiently in cold weather.

G.J. La O’
Co-founder & CEO
TyFast Energy

“Those areas, those battery parameters, are in fact where TyFast, with our novel anode material, has a good sweet spot,” he said. “So we knew our application would be a strong one.”

La O’ said Tyfast is designing next generation lithium batteries for “always on, ultra-fact charging devices” in a variety of platforms using a new anode called “LVO” (lithium vanadium oxide) that was discovered at UC San Diego by fellow TyFast co-founders Chief Science Officer Ping Liu and Chief Technology Officer Haudong Liu.

TyFast is currently at the point of producing prototype cells, which were just completed at the end of last year. The company is working on getting battery samples with prototypes cells into the hands of early customers in its beachhead markets of small consumer devices that require always-on operations, such as medical wearables and smart watches. The company will then scale up to larger applications all the way to EVs.

“And the EVs4All program now provides us that access to the EV space,” La O’ said. “The funding is to develop battery cells that meet electric vehicle parameters.”

The EVs4ALL program funds are managed by DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). In addition to South 8 and TyFast, ARPA-E selected the following 10 teams from universities, national laboratories and the private sector:

  • 24M Technologies (Cambridge, MA) awarded $3,198,085 to develop its ultra-thick SemiSolid cathode made up of advanced cobalt-free, nickel-free sodium cathode active material; an advanced wide-temperature, fast-charging electrolyte developed using machine learning and automated high-throughput screening technology; and a sodium super ionic conductor.
  • Ampcera (Tucson, AZ) awarded $2,120,120 to develop a solid-state battery incorporating a thermally modulated cell technology developed by EC Power, that was used in conventional Li-ion batteries to power buses during the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
  • National Renewable Energy Laboratory (Golden, CO) awarded $3,425,00 to assess data and parameters representing the risks of next generation cells.
  • Ohio State University (Columbus, OH) awarded $3,876,363 to scale its prototype high-power battery technology that can tolerate rapid charging while demonstrating longevity far beyond the current state-of-the-art Li-ion cells.
  • Project K (Palo Alto) awarded $2,587,618 for developing and commercializing a potassium-ion battery, which operates similarly to Li-ion batteries.
  • Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM) awarded $3,700,000 to develop a novel predictive simulation/modeling and testing framework to evaluate advanced battery material and cell safety at an early stage.
  • Solid Power Operating (Thornton, CO) awarded $4,852,733 to develop a 3D-structured Li metal anode and novel sulfur composite cathode to enable high-energy and fast-charging EV battery cells.
  • University of Maryland (College Park, MD) awarded $4,852,733 to increase the charge/discharge-rate capability, energy density, and operating temperature window of solid-state lithium metal batteries.
  • Virginia Tech (Blacksburg, VA) awarded $2,945,000 to develop EV batteries using cobalt- and nickel-free cathodes, fast-charging and all-weather electrolytes, and coal-derived fast-charging and high-capacity anodes.
  • Zeta Energy (Houston, TX) awarded $4 million to create a new anode with a high Li content that is also highly accessible and rechargeable.

To learn more about the projects selected for the EVs4ALL program, visit, tinyurl.com/5dmzwkmx

TyFast Energy

Founded: 2021
CEO: G.J. La O’
Headquarters: San Diego (UCSD campus)
Business: Developer of lithium vanadium oxide (LVO) batteries
Funding: Raised over $5 million pre-seed and grant awards
Employees: 10
Website: tyfast.energy
Notable: TyFast is part of the prestigious Activate Global, Inc. fellowship program.

South 8 Technologies

Founded: 2016
CEO: Cyrus Rustomji
Business: Liquified gas electrolytes for lithium-ion batteries
Headquarters: Pacific Beach
Employees: 22
Website:  south8technologies.com
Notable: LiGas batteries can perform in extreme climates at temperatures as low -60 °C and up to +60°C.

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