Planar acquires technology for safer lithium ion batteries

September 9, 2008: In a licensing agreement with Policell Technologies Inc., Planar Energy Devices Inc. has acquired technology and manufacturing rights for a new generation of safe large-format lithium ion batteries based on a bondable nanocomposite separator technology. This new cell and separator technology has a chemically engineered shutdown feature that prevents cells from triggering thermal runaway which can result in batteries catching on fire.

Safely preventing thermal runaway without reducing the capacity and cycle life of lithium ion batteries has been a major technical impediment to broader use of lithium ion energy storage. “In recent years we have seen increasing numbers of high-profile incidents where batteries catch on fire or in some cases explode,” said Planar CEO Scott Faris. “The industry has reached a crossroads where traditional approaches to increasing battery capacity have also led to decreasing safety.

Planar’s proprietary approach enables a new generation of lithium ion batteries that address both the demands of safety and capacity in a product that can be manufactured in volume.”

As a laminated flat cell structure for lithium batteries becomes more widely accepted for consumer applications, ranging from wireless devices to electric/hybrid vehicles, “safety will be the major impediment to wide scale market acceptance,” Faris said. “And Planar is committed to designing and manufacturing solid-state batteries to address this dilemma.”

Planar’s new PowerBlade line of batteries deliver high energy under heavy load, and have higher cycle life and stable cell impedance during long term cycling. The PowerBlade separator does not show any shrinkage in the battery with time or usage at high temperatures and shuts down the battery when overheated to prevent thermal runaway and battery explosion. These safety features have been verified in customer testing of large size batteries.

The addition of this technology platform is part of an ongoing strategy by Planar to acquire and consolidate key technologies that enable scalable solid-state energy storage products. “There are tremendous opportunities to leverage this new cell and membrane technology with Planar’s portfolio of solid state electrolyte and high capacity cathode materials creating exciting future products that will allow Planar to provide higher capacity batteries without sacrificing safety,” said Faris.

Planar is currently sampling PowerBlade cells to initial customers and expects to manufacture cells at its Orlando facility, making Planar one of only a handful of companies that manufacture large format lithium ion cells domestically.

According to Faris, “Planar is committed to pursuing strategies for cost-effective domestic manufacturing. We recognize that the ability to design and build world-class batteries from the United States is not only possible, but also desirable if we are to achieve energy independence as we move toward an electrical energy driven economy.”

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