When charging, early prototypes of lithium metal batteries would form needle–like structures known as dendrites, which could short the cells and cause them to catch fire or explode.
As founder and CEO of SolidEnergy Systems, a startup based in Woburn, Massachusetts, he’s come as close as anyone to commercializing rechargeable batteries made of lithium metal.
Later in 2019, it will open the world’s largest manufacturing facility for lithium metal batteries in Shanghai, where Hu hopes to scale up production to tens of thousands of cells per month.
Building on this solution, SolidEnergy Systems developed a pilot line of lithium metal batteries in 2016 that are now being tested in drones.
The boost in energy density offered by lithium metal batteries could effectively double the range of an electric vehicle.
These promise twice the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, the current industry standard for nearly all electronics and electric vehicles.
If the pattern holds, the next breakthrough is almost due: lithium-ion batteries, whose anodes are usually made of graphite or silicon, were first commercialized in 1991 by Sony.