|Fig. 1: Lithium with a nitride layer, Lithium is the key component in Sakti3's potential disruption of the battery market. Source: Wikimedia Commons|
If someone said that they could make your Iphone battery last twice as long or your electric car drive twice as fast you might laugh. Sakti3 is not kidding though. Ann Marie Sastry, founder of Sakti3 and former engineering professor at the University of Michigan, claims that her startup is on the verge of disrupting many industries.  Sakti3 has received a lot of attention due to the high profile companies and funds that are backing it. Backers of Sakti3 include GM, Khosla Ventures, and many more.
Dr. Sastry determined that solid-state lithium ion batteries are the future of mass-market adoption of electrified vehicles because of lower cost and superior performance. Sakti3 utilizes this type of battery. The two questions that have plagued the widespread adoption of solid-state lithium ion batteries are (1) Can they be made cheaply enough to enable mass-market adoption of electric vehicles? and (2) Can they be made so their performance is superior to the current state of the art li-ion batteries?
Sakti3 has developed a type of solid-state battery that can be made with inexpensive manufacturing technology.  The battery can also store more energy than traditional batteries. In late 2014 the company announced that it had produced a solid-state cell with a volumetric energy density of 1,100 Wh/l, which the company claims would almost double the range of a modern electric vehicle.  Additionally, Sakti3's design does away with liquid electrolytes used in most batteries. Liquid electrolytes can cause chemical reactions that lead to overheating as well as other issues. Batteries that use liquid electrolytes require bulky cooling systems; since Sakti3 eliminates the liquid electrolytes it is able to similarly eliminate the cooling system, allowing the battery to be significantly more compact that other batteries. The solid-state battery also eliminates the many potential dangers liquid electrolytes pose.
Sakti3 could impact a number of different industries, however, the main industries are cellphones and electric vehicles. The Sakti3 battery is compact enough to work in a cellphone, and twice as powerful as current battery technology used in cellphones.  Sakti3 would also cut the current size of a battery pack by 80 percent and improve the range of state of charge up to 80% discharge compared to 50% for current Li-ion batteries. All of this sounds great and there are many believers, but there is a reason this has not garnered more attention.
Currently Sakti3 has not been able to mass produce a battery. In other words, all of the hype and promise has thus far not produced anything that could actually make a difference. Additionally, solid-state Lithium batteries have had many problems in the past.  Lithium metal is highly reactive and prone to formation of dendrites, which can potentially lead to short circuits and associated safety hazards. Past experiences with solid-state Lithium batteries have also shown scary tendencies such as exploding at random times.
While Sakti3 is not currently being mass-produced, it is still one of the most important energy technologies to watch. The company is capable of dramatically changing many industries immediately. With significant companies and money behind it, Sakti3 is one of the most important, if not the most important, companies in the world for green technology.
© Yale Goldberg. The author grants permission to copy, distribute and display this work in unaltered form, with attribution to the author, for noncommercial purposes only. All other rights, including commercial rights, are reserved to the author.
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