Nuvola Technology says it has developed direct coating polymer separator technology that can eliminate the primary cause of lithium-ion battery fires.
The SafeCoat Direct Deposition Separator material is the first product launched by the Los Angeles-based startup formerly known as Millibatt. Under its former name, the venture-backed company focused on small, rechargeable, high-density battery-powered wearables, biomedical applications, and Internet of Things sensor applications.
Nuvola said it has been selected as one of 10 winners in LG Energy Solution’s annual 2022 Battery Challenge. The competition brought together more than 100 companies with new battery technologies and business models.
SafeCoat is described as a chemistry-agnostic, drop-in solution for lithium-ion batteries that is compatible with common lithium-ion manufacturing technologies. A porous polymer coating sprayed directly onto the entire electrode surface encapsulates and protects them from thermal runaway and possible fire.
According to Nuvola, the weak point of the battery system is the thousands of tissue paper thin sheets of folded porous plastic film that keep the electrodes apart and make the battery prone to manufacturing errors and failures.
“During the battery assembly process, a single sheet separator can become damaged, creating an undetectable wrinkle, misalignment, kink, or even a small tear, allowing the electrodes to come into contact. This can cause a fire — days, months, or years later,” the company said.
In addition to improving safety, Safe Coat is said to increase the amount of active battery material and improve energy density by up to 20%. Reducing the thickness of the separator from the 20 µm of the plastic film separator to the 5 µm layer of the SafeCoat leaves more room for lithium ions in the same physical space.
According to the company, the Nuvola SafeCoat product is now being evaluated by several large battery manufacturers and car manufacturers. It expects products using the technology to hit the market in 2025.