Electric Aviation Powers By Solithor's Lithium Batteries
A start-up called Solithor has raised €10 million ($10.4 million) in seed funding to develop solid-state lithium batteries. With its new pouch cells, the company, a spin-off from Imec, is targeting multiple applications, including electric aircraft.
Imec's EnergyVille research and development hub in Leuven, Belgium, hosts the venture, which was established in January 2022. It currently employs 20 people to advance Imec's intellectual property.
Huw Hampson-Jones, the co-founder and CEO of Solithor, was previously with Oxis Energy, which went into administration in May 2021 and was then acquired by Johnson Matthey, a sustainable technologies company. Bye Aerospace had partnered with the UK-based company to develop lithium-sulfur batteries.
“Solithor’s technology is unique and is based on breakthrough chemistry and components, [including] the nano-Solid Composite Electrolyte [nano-SCE] and the nano-anode, spearheaded within the EnergyVille labs and patented by Imec,” he continued. “This revolutionary technology will improve energy density, charging speeds and, crucially, increase safety and will be far easier to manufacture than other solid-state batteries.”
Unlike sulfides, oxides, and polymers, nano-SCEs do not require high operating temperatures in order to achieve high lithium-ion connectivity, according to the company. According to Solithor, the new solid-state cells will surpass the current limit of 800-Wh/l (300Wh/kg) energy density for lithium-ion cells.
Fanny Bardé, co-founder and chief technology officer of Imec, will oversee the company's research and development program.
“Charging speed should be at least at par with current technology,” Bardé explained to Rich Report.“Our initial targets are to achieve 30 percent improvements compared with current lithium-ion batteries. If the best of those is in the range of 250 to 270 Wh/kg, then the range of improvement [would be] in the mid 325 to 350 range. If the best of current lithium-ion [technology] is around 600 to 650 WH/l then one could expect a range of 750 to 850 Wh/l.”
In a bid to develop new prototype cells and batteries for electric aviation, Solitor said it is in talks with several electric aviation companies in Europe and other regions. According to the company, these prospective applications will primarily involve fixed-wing aircraft intended for regional air service.