ITWire recently reported on Australian nanotech company Nano-Nouvelle doing it “one atom at a time.” It was referring to its epoch-making 3D nano-porous conductive membranes for energy, environmental, chemical and biomedical applications. Its top scientists are pushing the boundaries of functional materials with patent filings around its core technology. The first products in development are high-performance battery electrodes, which can increase energy storage capacity by as much as 50%.
It seems that the Americans have taken notice and the company has established agreements with specialist US manufacturers to show how its innovative 3D nanotechnology can improve their battery performance.
Nano-Nouvelle chief executive Stephanie Moroz met executives from the two companies at a global battery conference in Chicago, said these high-performance battery manufacturers were ideal partners for the company’s technology. “They provide a great initial entry point for us,” she said.
“It’s hard to go from zero to high-volume production. Nano-Nouvelle is in a good position to support field trials by specialist companies, which work at smaller volumes, are less cost-sensitive and are incredibly focused on improving the performance of their batteries.
“As Tesla proved with its Roadster EV sportscar, this sort of low-volume, high-margin starting point can provide a high-visibility platform to demonstrate the benefits of innovative technology, which can accelerate its adoption by mass-market manufacturers.”
An important part of Sunshine Coast-based Nano-Nouvelle's strategy involves working out how to implement its innovative nanotechnology into current manufacturing processes.
Moroz met the US executives at the 18th International Meeting on Lithium Batteries, a biennial symposium which attracted more than 1500 delegates from Europe, Asia, and the US. A strong focus for the conference was how to maximise energy capacity and performance lifetime for batteries that power electric vehicles (EVs), which last year passed the one million car milestone globally.
Moroz said the focus of battery research had undergone a noticeable shift since the 2014 conference. "Whereas two years ago, it was mainly about portable electronics and wearables, the focus is now on batteries for EVs and energy storage," she said.
"People want to drive EVs and put energy storage batteries in their homes, but the delay between a scientific breakthrough and a commercial product can take as long as ten years. The good news for us from this conference is that the battery industry has stopped chasing blue sky technologies to focus on improving lithium-ion performance, which is where our products can deliver real value.”
“Our goal is for them to take our electrode, match it with their other components and run it through their standard assembly processes. While they end up making higher performance batteries, the actual production deployment will require minimal effort on their part.”