A start-up based in Johannesburg, South Africa, is designing a patent-in-process world’s thinnest ultracapacitor cell measuring 0.1mm thick built on nanotechnology and proprietary process. The novelty about the ultracapcitor technology under development is centred on the application of new set of ultra-powerful, ultra-light, ultra-conductive materials. manufactured at scale. This has made it essential that new, low-cost and environmentally friendly energy storage systems be implemented in response to the needs of modern society and emerging ecological concerns. The technology responds exactly to this ever yearned societal need.
The start-up is currently at pre-seed and Proof of Concept (POC) development and testing phase. It has developed 4 variants of POCs. The proposed R&D Project aims to embark on moving from the POC stage, currently at Technology Readiness Level (TRL) 4 , to developing working prototypes where modules will be developed, applied, tested and validated in and with different market segments and in live environments. This phase will prepare the start-up for the pilot phase (seed stage) where manufacturing and engineering operations will be tested with a few targeted market segment customers. The seed (pilot) stage will precede the commercial phase. In a nutshell, the proposed R&D project will seek to take the ultracapacitor technology from lab to prototyping and from testing and validation to commercialization.
As a start-up with the vision to scale globally, resources are required to scale the technology and the project for the next phases of development and growth. The start-up is looking for a R&D Project development partner with a global scale, with access to R&D infrastructure of a global standing and expertise in lab to prototyping capabilities and scale, access to expertise and capabilities in manufacturing and engineering, transfer of skills and knowledge expansion in manufacturing and engineering. The scope of activites of the potential partner include but not limited to industrial manufacturing and engineering expertise, end-to-end set up and configuration of the manufacturing plant, development of SOPs in manufacturing operations, processes and systems, modelling of operational and manufacturing efficiencies, certification and standardization, enable parallel development of systems and services, enable the manufacturing of industrial modules and components, perform technology performance characterization, industry-oriented electrode engineering and cell production, development of prototypes, cell selection and benchmarking based on extensive battery databases, comprehensive physicochemical and electrochemical characterisation (in- and ex-situ methods).
The patent-in-process technology is based on a combination of microfibers and nanofibers. The microfibers provide scaffolding with high strength and an open structure. The nanofibers drape over the microfibers so the pore size is low and the pore size distribution is narrow, while the porosity is high. The technology’s cell is underpinned by the proprietary chemistry of the electrode, electrolyste and electron storage layer. The technology's cell is made up of a a metal electrode to which the current collector is bonded using a highly conductive polymer. The current collector is made up of proprietary mixture of specifically sized carbon nanotubes and a rare earth metal nanoparticle (the rare earth metal is abundant, safe, low priced and available in huge quantities). The technology's electrolyte is dissolved in a non-aqueous solvent and an appropriate ionic membrane is utlised. The electrode/current collector separated by the membrane forms a cell, with the electrolyte. 130 of these cells are then combined into a pouch measuring 210mm x 230mm x 13mm.
In initial tests conducted internally, the technology's cell achieved energy density of 240 Wh/kg. The Voltage rating is currently at 3.2 Volts, but tests are being conducted to increase the Voltage rating. The ultracapacitor beign worked on is a double layer electrolytic unit, that also utilizes instant Redox reactions by using an element that can change its electron state. This allows a reversable reaction where the element will easily donate an electron and revert to its original state depending on the charge discharge cycle. This enables the technology to increase capacity dramatically.