Over the next three years, Envia hopes to develop a battery for all-electric vehicles. “We’ll push the energy density as high as we can” by tweaking variables like coatings, porosity, and composition of the material, says Envia co-founder and business development chief Michael Sinkula. Envia was awarded a $3.65 million contract in December by the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (a coalition between Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors) to undertake this initiative.
Ultimately Envia’s goal is to build a battery that has a capacity of more than 400 watt-hours per kilogram—triple that of current vehicle batteries, according to Sinkula. Currently, he says, Envia’s best lab results are showing over 300 watt-hours per kilogram. But Sinkula believes that with a new anode material to match the potential of the company’s cathode, the higher target will be achieved.
“If that 300 is real,” says Cairns, “that would be a significant improvement.” But he says this performance needs to be demonstrated and verified by a third party. Even after independent verification, a big question mark will hang over Envia’s promise to deliver a better battery until it starts cranking out cells in larger volumes. Cairns says that until you have “some level of industrial production—many thousands of cells a year—you don’t really have a chance to test under the range of conditions,” such as high and low temperatures, and fast charging, that a commercial product will need to withstand.