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Envia’s High-Energy Battery Cell Mired In Dispute, GM Cancels Deal

Researchers and development firms regularly reveal battery-technology breakthroughs.

Now, Envia Systems–one company that gained much public attention by promising such a breakthrough–faces two lawsuits. One claims that Envia stole its technology from other companies.

And General Motors, which invested $17 million into the company in January 2011, has canceled its deal with Envia altogether.

Headlines lead to GM deal

The company, formed in 2007, has made several headlines in recent years. Envia said it could increase the energy density of batteries by a third, yet do so for less money.

So strong was its promise that GM licensed Envia’s advanced cathode material for use in future electric vehicles.

MORE: Electric-Car Battery Breakthroughs: Ultimate Guide

The motive was obvious–GM had just launched the Chevrolet Volt range-extended electric car to high acclaim, and was now seeking to secure its electric vehicle future by investing in companies promising huge battery technology improvements.

Then, in 2012, Envia made an even bolder claim: It could reduce the cost of the average electric vehicle by a third, down from $30,000 to $20,000, and that the same vehicle could offer 300 miles of range, up from the 80 or so of many modern electric cars.

Envia Battery Technology

Envia Battery Technology

The batteries use a Silicon-Carbon nanocomposite anode and High Capacity Manganese Rich nanocoated cathode. The nanotechnology used in the electrodes features a much greater surface area and greater energy density–a common theme throughout recent battery tech developments.

The claim was for 400 watt-hours per kilogram–when the contemporary Tesla Roadster had batteries with energy density of around 130 watt-hours per kilogram.

The Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy scheme, or ARPA-E, supplied a further $4 million grant to Envia–followed by a $1 million grant from the California Energy Commission
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