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A New Contender of Lithium-Ion, 3D Solid-State Battery

Developer, Sakuu isn't willing show their hand.

By Dana Donovick (Twitter @DanaDonovick)

Lithium-ion batteries dictate the performance and size of our favorite consumer electronics. With the electrification of the future in motion, scientists are working tirelessly to innovate new battery tech to meet the demands of electric cars, commercial vehicles, trucks, data energy solutions, and more. New chemistries are needed to achieve lighter weight, higher energy density, and more safe. Experts believe the next generation of lithium-ion batteries is the solid-state battery, though no one has been able to produce one, until now.

3D-printing startup Sakuu (formerly KeraCel) believes this can be achieved with 3D-printing. The company claims they've developed a 3D solid-state battery that's equal or better than existing lithium-ion batteries. In an interview with IEEE Spectrum, Karl Littau, the CTO of Sakuu said "To get the highest energy density batteries, we want to minimize the volume of all the elements that are not adding anything to the performance of the battery."

What's the difference between solid-state designs and existing lithium-ion batteries?

Sakuu's battery cell involves a lithium-metal anode and a ceramic electrolyte that separates the anode and cathode. Lithium-ion batteries however use organic liquids as electrolytes, which raises the risk of batteries catching on fire. The company's 3D-printing platform is based on technology pioneered at MIT known as the binder jet printing process. Sakuu won't disclose specific details about the materials used in its printing process, only revealing that electrolyte technology and fabrication "is kind of the crown jewels of everyone who's working in the solid-state battery space." Sakuu won't reveal any performance data comparing its 3Ah battery to a lithium-ion cell. However, the company said it has improved its solid-state battery's energy capacity by a factor of 100 over the last year, and .

Sakuu currently only has a prototype printer system however expects to have its first automated printer later this year. That should increase the company's ability to print cells "by an order of magnitude or more," Littau said.

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