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PolyPlus Develops Lithium-Metal Batteries Using Protected Lithium Electrode Technology

In the opening scene of the iconic movie of the 1960s, The Graduate, Benjamin Braddock, at a party to celebrate his college degree, is given one word of advice for his future: “Plastics.” Were young Benjamin to be receiving that advice today the word would be: “Batteries.”

Berkeley Lab spin-off company PolyPlus has created an entire line of lithium-metal batteries using their PLE technology.

Steve Visco of Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division had plenty of encouraging words for young graduates on the opportunities to be had in next generation battery research. Speaking at the recent national meeting of the American Chemical Society in New Orleans, Visco discussed the enormous progress his own start-up company, PolyPlus, has made in developing lithium-metal batteries with unprecedented energy density, and how the ever-growing need for electrical energy storage will require continued innovation and development in battery research.

“As the world moves towards electrification of transportation and increased use of renewables for grid power, the demand for advanced secondary batteries has already fueled a global race for more efficient electrical energy storage systems,” Visco said. “In order to maintain a competitive position, the U.S. will need to innovate, both in the development of step-change energy storage technologies and in cost-competitive manufacturing of those products.”

The main challenge for battery science has always been to maximize the amount of stored energy while maintaining stable electrode-electrolyte interfaces. When Visco began his battery research at Berkeley Lab in the late 1980s, the gold standards in rechargeable batteries were nickel-cadmium and lead-acid. In 1991, Visco and colleagues including Lutgard De Jonghe, also with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, formed PolyPlus, based on promising science with lithium-sulfur batteries. Shortly thereafter, Sony released the first lithium-ion batteries and a new gold standard was set.


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