Ilika announces commencement of pilot production of solid-state batteries.
On 21 November 2014 the Company announced that The Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, Minister for Universities, Science and Cities, had officially opened the pilot line for the production of solid-state batteries in Southampton. Since then, the Company’s technical team has carried out a series of operational tests to ensure the equipment meets the set of technical targets required for solid-state battery production. Having deposited the constituent materials required for forming batteries, the Company has now progressed to depositing arrays of battery structures.
The rate of deposition of materials, which is a key factor in establishing the price point of the resulting batteries, has been increased 10 fold relative to the rate of deposition of materials previously achieved on the Company’s development workflow over an area 20 times larger, delivering a 200 fold productivity increase. Deposition rates of 2 microns/hour, which compare favourably to commercially available solid-state micro-batteries, have already been achieved and significant increases in this rate are anticipated as the pilot line’s capabilities are tested further.
In addition, discussions have progressed with potential partners capable of manufacturing full production lines at industrial scale. These equipment manufacturers indicate that deposition rates of up to 1 micron/second could be expected for scaled-up production, a rate which is already standard in analogous production lines used to produce photovoltaic panels. At this deposition rate, Ilika’s solid-state batteries would be deposited over 3000 times faster than commercially available solid-state micro-batteries.
Operational parameters of the pilot line are currently being optimised to maximise the yield and performance of the batteries. The Company continues to be on track to release batches of batteries and performance data for evaluation by commercial partners in 2015.
The scalable, stacked cell architecture, which Ilika can produce, enables the simple fabrication of cells over a wide range of sizes. Ilika intends initially to produce micro-battery prototypes designed for powering wireless sensors, commonly referred to as the "Internet of Things", which is a rapidly growing segment expected to create an addressable market for micro-batteries in excess of £1bn by 2017. The battery architecture will subsequently be scaled-up, using the same process but with faster fabrication rates, to produce devices suitable for the largest markets for lithium ion batteries in wearables and consumer electronics, including mobile phones.
Commenting on this latest development, Graeme Purdy, Ilika CEO, said: "This announcement demonstrates the relentless progress being made by our operational team. Commercial pull from OEM partners continues to be broad and strong, with the increased capacity of micro-batteries being widely acknowledged as an important enabler to increase the market uptake of wearable and autonomous technologies."