Thanks to a unique, interdisciplinary approach to addressing ‘range anxiety’ due to limited battery life, the Israeli startup has reinvented the EV battery with a breakthrough that could finally leapfrog EVs into the mainstream.
It is no secret that transportation is one of our biggest polluters and contributors to climate change — it is responsible for 20 percent of all carbon dioxide emissions globally, with the largest majority emitted by road transportation. Despite this, private car ownership is on the rise; 91.5 percent of households in the US had access to at least one vehicle in 2020, up from 90.82 percent in 2015. But it’s clear that a sustainable future for travel cannot be dependent on traditional, gasoline-powered vehicles.
Consumers understand the need for a shift to electric vehicles (EVs) — 75 percent of US drivers agree that EVs are the future; but the majority of them don’t seem to be ready for them in the present, as most continue to favor the familiar combustion engine.
One of the most critical barriers preventing consumers from buying EVs is ‘range anxiety’ — the fear of running out of power and not being able to find a charging point. Automakers from Ford and Jaguar Land Rover to Porsche and Tesla are actively working to advance manufacturing and capabilities for EV batteries; but in the meantime, recent Volvo research found that range anxiety was still the top barrier to purchasing an EV for 58 percent of drivers who had never driven an EV.
Hoping to help ease this anxiety is StoreDot — an Israeli EV battery startup that is showcasing the potential of extra-fast-charging (XFC) battery power to disrupting the EV market. Thanks to a unique, interdisciplinary approach to the issue of battery life, StoreDot has reinvented the battery with a breakthrough that might leapfrog EVs into the mainstream.
In batteries, charge is held in the electrodes — the cathodes and anodes. When something is being powered, ions move from anode to cathode; then, when the battery is recharged, ions return to cathode from anode. StoreDot’s XFC batteries work by replacing the traditional Li-ion graphite anode with active-material silicon nanoparticles, which accelerate diffusion. Silicon anodes are absorbent — and can accept more lithium ions than graphite, which causes faster recharge — resulting in more charge and longer battery life.
“The surface area where Li-ions can enter a 3D structure of silicon — our active material — is much larger,” Doron Myersdorf, CEO and co-founder of StoreDot, told Sustainable Brands™. “So, imagine the surface area of a football field with nanoparticle capabilities, compared to a credit card without it. The larger surface area allows for free flow of ions in a safe and fast manner, which is not feasible otherwise.”
The breakthrough was inspired by work at Tel Aviv University on Alzheimer's disease. There, they investigated peptides in the ‘Amyloid fibrils’ — the brain’s neural network — associated with brain degradation. By artificially synthesising a variety of molecules, they demonstrated the potential of organic molecules for energy storage in nanoscale structures.
“The number-one problem for adoption of electric vehicles is the speed of charging; and I saw a path to change the game using the XFC technology,” Myersdorf explains. “We identified organic materials and small molecules that can be beneficial in storing energy; then, created a large experiment to identify the most effective materials that can be integrated into the Li ion batteries.”
StoreDot’s breakthrough was made possible by its interdisciplinary team of scientists from different academic fields.
“The best way to break the limits of what is known in science is the combination of different disciplines,” Myersdorf told us. “That way, much of the advanced methodologies and materials can be synergistically integrated into the design of the new battery and that’s what enables breakthroughs.”
The innovation of combining organic and inorganic molecules can be a long process; and it took StoreDot, founded in 2012, almost a decade to materialize the configuration of the battery and materials.
“The speed of charge was very limited in traditional graphite-based anodes. StoreDot shows how you can replace the graphite with silicon, with combined protection from organic additives and coatings,” Myersdorf says. “Silicon has 5x energy compared to graphite; however, it needs to be well controlled in terms of ‘swelling’.”
StoreDot’s reinvented batteries, augmented by organic molecules and optimized by AI, will help advance the shift away from combustion engines to a less carbon-filled future. Not only will EVs charge faster, but StoreDot is pushing for the longevity of EV batteries — the company ensures that the batteries can retain 70 percent of their original capacity after 1,700 charging cycles; and it is now developing ‘self-repairing’ battery cells.
StoreDot, valued at $1.6 billion, has a wide variety of investors — including automakers VinFast (Vietnamese EV manufacturer) and Daimler, Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich, the Wertheimer family (French billionaires and co-owners of Chanel), BP, Samsung Ventures, Singulariteam and electronics giant TDK. With the solid state battery market estimated to reach $3.4 billion globally by 2030 at 18 percent CAGR, investments like these are crucial to promote the necessary R&D to meet future market demand.
Last month, Volvo Cars Tech Fund also invested in StoreDot. Volvo Cars was the first established car manufacturer to commit to all-out electrification, and aims to be a pure electric car company by 2030. This collaboration should accelerate perfection and scaling of StoreDot’s technology — and with it, global growth of EV adoption.
Myersdorf said the Volvo investment “opens the access for advanced battery and vehicle teams across the globe, and allows entry into the NorthVolt production facility — which is part of the Volvo joint ventures for volume battery deliveries.”
In the meantime, StoreDot is on track to meet its first milestone, set for 2024, to mass-produce and deliver battery cells that allow for 100 miles of driving after only 5 minutes of charging — and by 2028, just 3 minutes.