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350-year-old company a key partner in production of cutting-edge EV battery technology — here's who's involved

"We pride ourselves on our ecosystem of world-class, like-minded innovators and partners."

"We pride ourselves on our ecosystem of world-class, like-minded innovators and partners."

Photo Credit: iStock

One of the latest solid-state batteries in development has an electrolyte component that resembles some of the top minds involved in developing it. That's because it looks a lot like brain matter. 

The popcorn-like, gray matter-esque ceramic material is the product of Maryland's ION Storage Systems, using ceramic from Saint-Gobain. The latter company brings hundreds of years of experience to the table. And if the innovation works out, it could be the solid-state electric vehicle "battery of the future," according to a report from CleanTechnica. 

Solid-state batteries use a solid electrolyte in cells instead of a liquid one. The electrolyte is the part of the battery where ions (traditionally lithium ones) pass back and forth during the charge-discharge cycle, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. 

The department calls solid power packs an "energy-dense and safer substitute to the traditional lithium-ion batteries prevalent in electric vehicles." In fact, the government is pumping $16 million into domestic solid-state manufacturing and other advanced technologies called flow batteries.

That's why ION and experts elsewhere are working on perfecting the technology, which could help us to transform the ways we get around.

The partnership with Saint-Gobain, based in France, should provide solid expertise, as the company has a 350-year history. And Saint-Gobain has locations throughout the U.S. 

The ION team has a multiyear agreement for the ceramic powder, which helps to make a battery that is fast-charging, safe (low fire risk), and versatile, ION noted in a lengthy checklist of perks.

The porous structure and a "dense separator layer" prevent wear-and-tear problems that happen with other batteries, including the formation of dendrites, according to ION. Dendrites are metal, branch-like structures that form as a battery is used. They can cause a short circuit.

"The architecture addresses the technological barriers that have historically plagued solid-state batteries, and it enables critical next-generation performance metrics for widespread adoption — including high-energy density, strong cycling performance, wide temperature range, and fast charging," Toyota Ventures's Lisa Coca told CleanTechnica. 

Among the good news coming for ION is an investment from Toyota Ventures, an early-stage capital firm. Toyota has helped ION to raise tens of millions of dollars, according to the online news site. 

ION now plans "in subsequent years" to scale manufacturing with Saint-Gobain's ceramic powder to provide the brainy battery tech to "defense, aerospace, consumer electronics, electric vehicle, and grid storage customers," a company news release stated. 

"We pride ourselves on our ecosystem of world-class, like-minded innovators and partners who share our values and commitment to a cleaner, more sustainable, future," ION CEO Ricky Hanna said in a statement.

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