A123 And MIT Startup Working On 4X Energy Density Batteries

Yesterday, “technology incubator” A123 Venture Technologies announced it would collaborate with SolidEnergy, an MIT startup, on advanced batteries with up to four times lithium-ion energy densities.

A123 Venture Technologies is a business arm of the revived A123 Systems LLC now owned by the Wanxiang Group and the investment in SolidEnergy’s “transformative solid electrolyte technology” is aiming for win-win pioneering into energy storage for multiple applications.

The companies plan to jointly produce consumer electronics battery prototypes within the next year, followed by electric vehicle battery prototypes, and SolidEnergy staff will also be hosted in A123’s Waltham, Massachusetts development facility.

This is the first such collaboration by A123 Ventures’ “incubator” business model which was introduced last year at MIT’s Knowledge Foundation conference with just this intent: to help startups succeed while getting something out of the deal for itself.

SolidEnergy was founded in 2012 and says it accepted the collaboration because A123 offers leading-edge labs and experience with rapid scale-up for viable technologies to become commercial products.

The startup’s contribution to the arrangement is its innovative battery technology called Solid Polymer Ionic Liquid (SPIL). This was developed at MIT and A123 says it stands to speed it along with its mature cell design and prototyping capabilities.

“We are excited to embark on our respective new journeys and to commercialize this technology in the fastest and most efficient way,” said Qichao Hu, President and Chief Technology Officer of SolidEnergy.

Now based in Livonia, Mich., A123 Systems was also founded as a spin-off from research begun at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. It is now wholly owned by the Wanxiang Group and says the combined strength of all its business arms makes it America’s largest lithium-ion battery business employer.

Results from testing of SolidEnergy’s tech are expected to be ready for discussion with target customers in the latter part of 2014.

“A123 is delighted that SolidEnergy selected us as a development partner and we look forward to providing them with the ecosystem needed to bring this important technology to market in leading edge products,” said Mujeeb Ijaz, president of A123 Venture Technologies.