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ASU startup scores funding from Shell for fire-safe lithium-ion battery research

Scientist assembles lithium-ion battery samples in battery research facility

AZ Inno

An Arizona State University startup has received funding to validate research for fire-safe lithium-ion batteries.

Safe-Li, which holds a license to commercialize fire-safe lithium-ion and lithium-metal battery technology, received $300,000 in seed funding and was accepted into Shell’s GameChanger Program, according to an ASU announcement.

The GameChanger program assists startups with early-stage ideas that have potential to impact the future of energy. GameChanger will provide Safe-Li with support and expertise, but the startup will maintain independence to make its own decisions.

“GameChanger saw the uniqueness in the technology. We’re honored to represent the science and ASU,” Chris Dee, chief operating officer and co-founder of Safe-Li, said in a statement. “We have the right product and plan to bring it forward to the world.”

ASU’s technology transfer partner, SkySong Innovations, facilitated the commercialization and patent process for Safe-Li’s battery technology, according to the announcement.

The round of seed funding will be used to progress research by Jerry Lin, a professor of chemical engineering at ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, who developed a scientific approach for creating a fire-safe lithium-ion battery.

Lin, who is also Safe-Li’s chief scientist, plans to validate the science as a coin cell battery, which are typically used to power key fobs.

Lin created a unique coating method that adds a step to current battery manufacturing, making them fire-safe while improving performance.

Safe-Li looks to scale up research in Q4

“From our market research this past year, the battery industry has given up on finding a solution to flammability after many years and many hundreds of millions that have been spent attempting to find a solution,” Dee said in an email. “Dr. Lin and through his work, Safe-Li, is now confirming the solution this year through its development efforts and funding from the Shell GameChanger program. “

Safe-Li expects to gain scientific confirmation for the multilayer pouch battery in the fourth quarter. From there, it will scale up its science to create larger pouch cell batteries for future commercial use, Dee said. 

Lithium-ion batteries are commonly used in consumer electronics, electric vehicles, commercial power tools and grid storage. However, fire hazards and explosions have raised safety concerns regarding lithium-ion battery systems, Lin said.  

“Our technology, once scaled up, will enable fabrication of fire-safe, high-performance lithium-ion batteries for various energy storage applications,” Lin said in a statement. “Furthermore, the platform technology we are developing can be extended to make lithium-metal batteries with higher energy density, which will have a big impact on developing long-range batteries for electrical vehicles.”


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