IDTechEx Technology Analyst Harry Zervos interviewed Leyden Energy's Aakar Patel, discussing the company's battery technology, the attributes that make it a technology that's attracting the interest of consumer electronic, smart grid and EV developers as well as the company's prospects and aims for the future.
Leyden Energy: beginnings and mission
Leyden Energy is a start-up company set up in 2007 in Fremont, CA, using a seed technology patent (uniform cell heat distribution)acquired by chemicals company Dupont. Working with Li-ion technology, the aim of the company is to achieve an increase in battery cycle life without compromising energy density. Leyden Energy technology addresses and corrects many of the fundamental safety and stability issues of Li-ion chemistry, while also providing the highest energy density of any Li-ion product on the market. The technology is characterized by thermal properties which allow the battery to operate at temperatures much higher than typical Li-ion batteries.
According to Aakar Patel, president and CEO of Leyden energy, these performance levels have been achieved mainly due to key developments on the electrolyte utilized. "We realised early on here at Leyden Energy that not much development work was going into the area of electrolyte improvement so that's where we focused our efforts and that's where most our I.P. is currently lying."
While traditional electrolytes tend to use LiPF6 salts, Leyden replaced them with lithium imide. "Although the fluorine structure tends to be stable up to temperatures of about 60-80 oC, imide offers stability to temperatures up to 300oC," Aakar says and he continues: "The battery's energy density and cycle life is exceptional: At 330Wh/l energy density, we can achieve 1000 cycles at full depth of discharge down to 2.75V at 60oC." For comparison, lithium iron phosphate technology performs better in terms of cycle life but is characterized by lower energy densities.
Leyden products use a conductive graphitic foil to increase reliability and also offer outstanding thermal conductivity that is well beyond its aluminum cathode current collector predecessor, leading to increased safety.
Market sectors addressed
Leyden's products are Underwriters Laboratories approved and come in three form factors: 18650 cells, laminar pouches (with a new patented pouch design that eliminates the need to compensate for expansion, thus increasing safety) but also larger battery packs. "Our current target market is the consumer electronics sector, with our pouch and 18650 batteries already in many electronic devices." Richmond, BC-based Dr Battery is one of Leyden's customers -using the company's technology as replacement batteries- and now wants to use Leyden's technology in all 1,200 of its products. The company is backing Leyden batteries with two- and three-year warranties. Although a 3-year warranty replacement battery will be sold at a premium when compared to ordinary batteries, the company's technology remains competitively priced, even when compared with some of the larger companies in the sector. Aakar adds: "Our larger battery packs could also be incorporated in e-bikes and other electric vehicles and smart grid applications. We are already addressing the EV market with tier 1 customers evaluating our technology."
The company's pilot production facility, used mainly for prototyping, is in Fremont, CA but large scale manufacturing is done in china. When it comes to further research and technology developments, Aakar mentions that a lot of work is going into anode and cathode development, trying to achieve higher voltage and energy density but never sacrificing safety. The company is also addressing cost issues with a low cost strategy that will increase the battery's competitiveness in the marketplace.
For more information please visit www.leydenenergy.com