Keeping current: Dyson bets on battery pioneer Sakti3
Dyson is investing $18 million into Michigan-based solid-state battery leader, Sakti3.
Following Dyson’s announcement last year of a $2.6 billion CAD investment into future technologies, the partnership with Sakti3 will help to propel Dyson’s ambitious plans – 100 new machines in four new portfolios of technology over the next four years. Dyson’s move is part of an investment round of $24 million CAD ($20 million USD) that includes a joint development agreement to commercialize Sakti3’s solid state technology, integrating it into future Dyson machines.
James Dyson, Founder & Chief Engineer, said: “Sakti3 has achieved leaps in performance which current battery technology simply can’t. It’s these fundamental technologies – batteries, motors – that allow machines to work properly. The Sakti3 team has amazing ambitions, and their platform offers the potential for exponential performance gains that will supercharge the Dyson machines we know today.”
Current Lithium-ion (Li-ion) technology was first released commercially by Sony in 1991 and iterations of it feature in nearly every consumer electronic good: from smartphones to Dyson’s range of cordless vacuums. But it is thwarted by limitations in size, weight, charge time, capacity and degradation.
Sakti3 is positioned to change that. In 2006, CEO Ann Marie Sastry and her colleagues started running mathematical optimization schemes to explore how to make car batteries more efficient. Their research led them away from the liquid electrolyte found in conventional lithium-ion batteries, and towards solid state batteries. Since that time, the company has built and commissioned a pilot line to produce its technology, raising over $60 million CAD ($50 million USD) in equity investments from Khosla Ventures, Beringea, Itochu and General Motors, in addition to Dyson.
The company, born out of the University of Michigan, has published more than 80 papers on battery technology, and methodically converted their numerical predictions, through process science and work on scalable equipment, into prototype solid-state battery cells having the highest known energy density of any battery – over 1100 Wh/l. This rating doubles the density of today’s most advanced liquid lithium-ion batteries, while also maintaining the potential to be cheaper to manufacture, smaller, safer, more reliable and longer lasting.
Ann Marie Sastry (see her TEDx Detroit talk from 2014 above), Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Sakti3, said: “It was quite an honour for us to be approached by Dyson, precisely because they wanted what we did – much, much better batteries. The truth is, there is a great deal of knowledge and passion on both sides, and Dyson’s engineering team has the capability and the track record to scale up new ideas and make them a commercial reality. Together we will enable some very transformative products.”
Sakti3’s technology is just the beginning; the new platform has the potential to provide much larger leaps in energy density, and will have uses for electric vehicles, the storage of renewable power, the miniaturization of technology, as well as entirely new applications. The technology will first come to market with Dyson.