LAKE WALES, Fla. — The exploding battery debacle of Samsung's Note 7 got it recalled, replaced, recalled again and now permanently cancelled. Any remaining units in the field are banned by the FAA from airline flights. But it all could have been avoided, according to Forge Nano (Denver, Colo., formerly PneumatiCoat Technologies), if their nano coating had been used. Forge Nano's nano coatings boost the breakdown temperature of flammable electrolyte Li-Ion batteries, putting it way far into the safe zone for nominal environmental usage. The key, according to Forge Nano (Denver) is nano-pattern atomic layer deposition (ALD).
"The atomic layer coatings are chemically bonded on the surface of active material particles that make up the Li-Ion battery cathode. It works like a protective coating on an M&M. Independent testing and research has shown that ALD coatings can prevent or reduce the formation of these unwanted chemical species within Li-Ion batteries that can lead exothermic reactions [thermal runaway]," Dr. James Trevey, vice president of engineering told EE Times.
Forge Nano was awarded funding by the Department of Energy (DoE) for its pictured "Nanocoated Cathode Powders for High Performance…" (Source: Forge)
When you draw too much power from a Li-Ion battery it heats up the internal separator between the two flammable electrolytes, melting it and allowing its full charge to be released instantaneously igniting a chemical reaction between the electrolytes causing them to explode. Once their package ruptures the oxygen in the air catches the flammable electrolytes on fire which can spread quickly to other cells as they burst under the thermal runaway of heat as happened on earlier Boeing 787 flights. Forge Nano claims to prevent this thermal runaway situation by never letting it get started — even if the battery electrodes are shorted out.
According to David Wood and colleagues at Oak Ridge National Laboratories, ALD prevents surface phase transitions for high-voltage Lithium-Ion batteries.The peer-reviewed Nature magazine featured the ORNL's ALD work earlier this year. Since then Forge Nano has been working on a commercial version of the product that they finally believe they have in place (too late for Samsung Note 7, but perfect timing for the upcoming 8th generation due out next year).
In fact, Forge Nano has just landed its Series A of funding. PneumatiCoat Technologies—newly named Forged Nano because it "embodies our vision to enable materials solutions that will change the world. PneumatiCoat has become known for solutions for lithium-ion batteries, but since ALD is a platform technology our re-branding as Forge Nano foreshadows becoming known as a materials’ solution provider for any technology and not just lithium-ion batteries," Trevey told EE Times.
Artists redesign of the hegogonal atomic structure of its coatings, which were funded by the DoE to validate and expand the coatings to battery storage applications along with fuel cells.
(Source: Forge Nano)
Series A follows about $20,000 of seed funding from the founders, government grants and earned service revenues, with $20 million to expand its manufacturing capacity and fuel R&D with rapid growth, says Trevey.
Led by Townsend Capital LLC the first order of business is sell all the Li-Ion battery makers on the need to make their batteries safer, which you would think is a no-brainer, But according to Elegus Technologies which is trying to toughen up Li-Ion batteries with Kevlar electrolyte dividers, Li-Ion companies believe that safety levels are "adequate," and are instead spending all their R&D dollars are giving them more capacity.
Hopefully safety will eventually prevail over quarterly profits making Forged Nano successful with its Series A funding and Elegus Technologies not far behind with its seed funding. Forge Nano is currently relocating to a new 12,000 square feet facility in Louisville, Colorado, shooting for a 250 percent increase in the lifetimes of nano-coated cathode materials, thus adding longest to safety. The new facility will increase their nano-structured material output by 10X — from 30-ton to 300-tons per year. They will also be targeting related industries in need of their nano-coatings including catalysts and fuel cells — a $20 billion market and growing, according to Forge Nano.
— R. Colin Johnson, Advanced Technology Editor, EE Times