This is part of a series on Israel’s ClimateTech innovation ecosystem. Please read the introductory article to learn more about the wonderful public-private partnership ecosystem that is flourishing in Israel.
Battery storage is an extremely important piece in the decarbonization puzzle. I’ve written about several different technologies for grid storage – using chemical or mechanical means to store renewable energy for rapid release into the power grid.
One class of storage technology that I haven’t written much about in this column is portable storage – the types of batteries that let you carry a powerful minicomputer in your pocket or send a Tesla from zero to 60 split.
The first portable storage technology is that of lithium-ion batteries. There are various lithium-ion chemistries suitable for different use cases, but for the past 30 or so years, betting against lithium-ion has been a bad bet.
That’s not to say lithium-ion batteries can’t be improved. They are lightweight and have high energy density and good discharge ratebut their life cycle is too short, they’re expensive, they require software to protect them from overcharging, and they take too long to charge if you’re going to use them to power a car.
Knowing how hard it is to knock down fairly good technology like lithium-ion, I haven’t written anything about alternative portable battery technology. However, I was delighted to hear about an Israeli company – CENS Nano – who has developed a way to improve all types of lithium-ion batteries using carbon nanotubes (CNTs).
CENS’ technological breakthrough improves the lifespan and reduces the costs and charging times of lithium-ion batteries, all without modifying the production process of battery manufacturers. Combining performance increases with minimal operational disruption is potentially a very big win for battery producers, consumers and society as a whole as we push the double towards electrification.
The secret behind the company’s scientific and technical advances lies in a proprietary, trade-secret protected dry process material containing CNTs that is dispersed in the cathode (positive pole) and anode (positive pole) components. negative) of a battery.
The CENS dry dispersion of CNTs creates a very stable conductive skeleton inside cathodes and anodes that is unaffected by cycling mechanisms. Due to this effect, CENS technology prevents the performance of the battery cells from degrading as the number of cycles increases and thus prolongs the life of the cells.
CENS’ dry dispersion process creates a three-dimensional mesh that forms direct contact with cathode and anode particles that allows more efficient transmission of energy and helps block the formation of dendritic spines – the microscopic spikes that develop naturally when recharging lithium-ion batteries and are responsible for shortening battery life.
CENS CEO Moshe Johary tells me that about 30% of an electric vehicle’s (EV) value is made up of its battery costs. Because batteries made using CENS materials can store around 30-40% more energy and have a longer useful life, he can see CENS contributing to EV batteries whose cells have the winning combination of better performance, longer life and lower cost.
When I asked Johary how he sees his company’s technology contributing to the evolution of electric vehicles, he said that “the adoption of electric vehicles remains limited by a higher price compared to combustion engine vehicles internal, mainly due to the high cost of batteries. By using batteries containing CENS technology, EV drivers will be able to go further between charging stops and automakers will be able to reduce the price of batteries to less than $100 per kilowatt-hour. Ultimately, we believe batteries will become cheap enough to allow electric vehicles to cost less than gas-powered ones.
With CENS technology, electric vehicle owners will be able to travel more miles between charges, spend less time waiting at the charging station and increase the life of their batteries. Longer-range electric vehicles also mean lower infrastructure costs for building the charging stations necessary for the widespread use of electric vehicles.
In addition to increased range and lower upfront costs, the total cost of ownership of an EV would also decrease using CENS technology, thanks to the increased useful life of the batteries. As the useful life of batteries lengthens, the frequency with which you need to replace them also decreases; this results in reduced maintenance costs for the owner of the electric vehicle.
While the electric vehicle supply chain represents CENS’ initial target market, the company also intends to sell into the consumer electronics market, industrial drones and anything else that uses EV power. the battery to operate. “Our ability to monetize this technology is not tied to a specific segment or market. We are perfectly positioned to benefit from the secular transition to electrification,” Johary told me.
The technical specs of the CENS product sound great, but honestly, what stood out to me the most when I first read the CENS pitch deck was the fact that the company designed their product to that battery manufacturers don’t have to change any of their production processes to use it.
Being a semiconductor analyst for a few years, I know that the best technology doesn’t automatically win. If the use of new technology means that expensive production lines must be completely revamped, the innovation must be much better than the legacy solution for producers to be ready to change.
The fact that CENS technology improves upon leading portable battery technology (lithium-ion) without requiring battery production changes greatly improves CENS’ chances of success, in my opinion.
CENS was introduced to me by my guide to Israeli ClimateTech companies, Rotem Yehuda Kakon. I asked him what attracted him to CENS.
“I believe that the future of transport around the world lies in alternative solutions to polluting fuels,” Kakon said, “including electric solutions of various types, with an emphasis on sophisticated batteries.”
“If we can develop better batteries that can extend the range of travel and make electric vehicles more popular and accessible to many people around the world, we can more easily switch from dirty fuels to clean fuels. In Israel, there are more than 500 companies in the field of smart mobility, and we believe that CENS technology provides a natural extension to the field of electric vehicles.
In case you weren’t follow the news lately, our civilization must figure out how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Better batteries and better electric vehicles are not the only pieces of the puzzle, but they are undeniably important. It’s great that smart scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs are working on this puzzle!
Smart investors take note.