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Swiss companies are pioneering revolutionary batteries that can charge in one minute: 'The only way of meeting the enormous rise in demand for high-performance batteries'

"Our goal is to establish our own pilot production in Switzerland in around two years."

"Our goal is to establish our own pilot production in Switzerland in around two years."

Photo Credit: ETH Zurich

ETH Zurich is celebrating big news from two battery companies that are spin-offs of university research. They are leveraging Swiss industry expertise that involves novel layered production techniques.  

BTRY is the maker of an ultra-thin solid-state battery that "charges in minutes [and] stores for years," per the designers. 8inks offers a battery manufacturing process that experts claim allows power packs "to reach their full potential." 

It's all happening in Switzerland, where leaders are working to meet ambitious climate goals by the end of the decade and beyond. The impact of these operations — from battery production to performance — could resonate throughout the entire energy storage sector. 

"When it comes to excellent production techniques, we can build on a very good foundation here in Switzerland," 8inks' Paul Baade said in an ETH press release.

For BTRY's part, the thin product looks a bit like a square of sandpaper. The cells are stacked on top of each other, providing fast charge speeds and high storage capacity. The designers said on the company website that the batteries can be tailored for specific needs. 

The solid-state electrolyte isn't flammable like common batteries in smartphones and other devices that use a liquid version. It works well in a wide temperature range, too. The vacuum manufacturing process doesn't require harmful solvents, per ETH and the company. 

The experts cited powering storage for medicines at low temperatures during transportation and even applications in outer space as possible tasks for the tech

"Our goal is to establish our own pilot production in Switzerland in around two years and to develop into a global manufacturer of batteries in the long term," BTRY co-founder Moritz Futscher said in the press release. 

At 8inks, the team is bucking three decades of battery manufacturing practices with a new process using a multi-layer coating method. The innovation builds the power pack in part by applying up to eight or more "thin coats of the active material in which the lithium-ion is stored," per an ETH description. This allows for versatility and tailoring of solid-state cell thickness, improving performance. 

The coating can be seen streaming into form in a video clip shared by ETH Zurich.

Importantly, the experts tout greater energy and power densities, cycle life, and safety with the sustainable method. For now, 8Inks is testing its process for coin packs and pouch batteries that are common in smartphones and other devices. However, the experts said the innovation is meant to be scaled up for use in electric vehicles

"We aim to use our manufacturing technique to develop solutions for the storage of renewable energies. This is the only way of meeting the enormous rise in demand for high-performance batteries in the long term," Baade said in the ETH summary.

Better batteries can hasten the adoption of cleaner electric technology in our world, including vehicles, mowers, and even heavy equipment. 

By switching to an electric mower, you can save hundreds of dollars in fuel and maintenance costs, as well as prevent about 2,600 pounds of harmful air pollution from being released during a decade. The fresher air can have a big impact, as planet-warming fumes are linked to the likelihood of more severe weather events, per NASA. 

Cleaner air also improves human health, as poor air quality caused by pollution can contribute to asthma, among numerous other ailments

For now, it seems leaders at the ETH spin-offs have room to grow in Switzerland. 

"There are numerous companies developing precisely the high-quality hardware and components that will enable us to establish and market our production systems in the long term," Baade said in the ETH report. 

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