Harvard engineers develop solid-state battery that lasts 20 years

The Harvard Office of Technology Development has granted an exclusive technology license to Adden Energy, Inc., a startup developing innovative solid-state battery systems for future electric vehicles that can be fully charged in minutes. Adden Energy has closed a $5.15 million seed round led by Primavera Capital Group, with participation from Rhapsody Venture Partners and MassVentures.

The license and venture capital will allow the startup to expand the Harvard lab prototype to commercial deployment of solid-state lithium-metal batteries, which could provide reliable and fast charging for future electric vehicles, helping them reach the mass market. Developed by researchers in the laboratory of Xin Li, Ph.D., associate professor of materials science in the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) at Harvard University, a lab-scale prototype of a coin cell battery has achieved battery charging rates as fast as three minutes, a lifetime The medium cycle is over 10,000 times, and the results are published in Nature and other journals. It also boasts high energy density and a degree of material stability, overcoming some of the safety challenges posed by other lithium-ion batteries.

Adden Energy was co-founded in 2021 by Li, Dr. William Fitzhugh ’20, and Dr. Luhan Ye ’22, who have all contributed to the development of the technology as graduate students in Dr. Li’s Harvard lab. Fred Hu, PhD ’93, founder and chairman of Primavera Capital and founder of Adden Energy.

The startup’s goal is to expand the battery to palm-sized pouch cells and then scale up to full-size car batteries over the next three to five years. “If you want to electrify the car, solid-state batteries are the way to go,” said Li, a scientific advisor at Adden Energy. “We set out to commercialize this technology because we do think our technology is unique compared to other solid-state batteries. In the lab, we’ve achieved 5,000 to 10,000 charge cycles over the life of the battery, while Even the best in class now requires 2,000 to 3,000 charge cycles, and we don’t see any fundamental limits to scaling our battery technology. That could be a game changer.”

In 2019, 29 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions came from transportation, said Fitzhugh, CEO of Adden Energy. “The full electrification of the fleet is one of the most meaningful steps we can take to combat climate change,” he said. “However, widespread adoption of electric vehicles requires batteries that can meet a variety of consumer needs. For example, 37% of Americans don’t have a garage at home, making it impossible to charge overnight at home. To electrify this segment, electric vehicles need to be compatible with The time it takes to charge an internal combustion engine car is basically the amount of time you currently spend at the gas station.”

Technologies developed at Harvard, including core innovations in solid-state battery design and electrolyte production methods, may offer other key advantages. “Typically, lithium metal anodes in other solid-state designs develop dendrites, dendrite-like growths that can gradually penetrate the electrolyte to reach the cathode. With the novel structure and material design, we can stop the dendrites before they cause damage. grow,” said Ye, who is currently the CTO of Adden Energy. “As a result, the device can maintain its high performance over a long lifetime. Our recent research shows that this nice feature can also be maintained when scaled up.”

“Climate change is the defining challenge facing the world. It is more important than ever to accelerate the transition to clean energy and zero-emission transportation,” said Fred Hu, who is also a member of The Nature Conservancy’s Global Board of Directors. “Adden Energy’s mission is to develop cutting-edge battery technology that will enable mass adoption of electric vehicles and contribute to a greener, more sustainable global economy.”

Li’s Harvard lab’s solid-state battery research progress has been licensed by Adden Energy, in part thanks to funding from the University’s Climate Change Solutions Fund, which supports research and policy initiatives to combat climate change, the transition to clean energy, and related health Impact; and the Physical Science and Engineering Accelerator from Harvard OTD, which brings researchers’ most commercially promising innovations to the launch of new startups and industry engagement. Li’s lab has also received grants from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC) Catalyst Program, the Harvard Data Science Program, the Harvard FAS Dean’s Promising Fellowship Competition Fund, and the U.S. Department of Energy to support solid-state battery research.

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