Liquid-to-solid battery electrolyte technology licensed exclusively to Safire

Newswise — The Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has exclusively licensed battery electrolyte technology to the Safire Technology Group. The collection of five patented technologies is designed for a drop-in additive for lithium-ion batteries that prevents explosions and impact fires.

Safire, a battery technology startup formerly known as BTRY, plans to locate facilities in East Tennessee as part of its plan to commercialize liquid-to-solid battery technology.

“Improving battery technology is critical to building a clean energy future for our country,” said Susan Hubbard, ORNL deputy for science and technology. “This technology has implications for several industries, making battery systems safer, more efficient and more stable.”

The potential for battery cells to catch fire or explode in the event of an impact, such as in an automobile accident, and cause property damage, serious injury or death is a major challenge in the adoption of battery technology for electric vehicles and aircraft, such as unmanned aerial vehicles. ORNL’s Safe Impact Resistant Electrolyte technology, or SAFIRE, eliminates this risk through a new electrolyte formulation that changes from liquid to solid upon impact.

In a lithium-ion battery, a thin piece of plastic separates the two electrodes. If the battery is damaged and the plastic layer fails, the electrodes can come into contact and cause the liquid electrolyte in the battery to ignite. In SAFIRE, the electrolyte solidifies under the impact, blocking the contact between the electrodes.

The technology can significantly reduce vehicle weight and increase range by eliminating the need for heavy protective shielding around the battery.

“SAFIRE will transform the automotive industry, particularly as we move towards electric vehicles,” said John Lee, co-founder and chief executive officer of Safire. “The additive is easy to incorporate into existing battery manufacturing processes and offers users a safer, lighter and more effective alternative to conventional battery protection, resulting in higher performance and lower total cost of ownership.”

In defense applications, the technology provides bullet and ballistic protection while reducing the weight of defense systems and equipment.

Lee and Mike Grubbs, the other co-founder of Safire, are also collaborating with government agencies and industry to develop the technology for electric vertical take-off and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft, e-bikes and other ion-powered equipment. of lithium.

“This announcement further strengthens our long-term partnership with ORNL and allows us to begin commercial testing,” Grubbs said during a Nov. 15 licensing event at ORNL. “We are also exploring new partnerships and identifying prototyping opportunities with car, e-bike and eVTOL manufacturers.”

ORNL’s Gabriel Veith, the inventor of SAFIRE, has been working to develop and perfect battery technology since 2014. Veith has been nominated in two R&D 100 Awards, including one for SAFIRE. The development team also includes ORNL colleagues Beth Armstrong, Hsin Wang, Sergiy Kalnaus, Katie Browning and Kevin Cooley.

“The best part of working at ORNL is the team environment. This team has a rheologist, a potter, an electrochemist, mechanical experts, material testers – they all make this technology work together,” Veith said. this truly unique opportunity.Having a diversity of people, experiences and backgrounds really helps to develop ideas.

SAFIRE was originally funded through the ORNL Seed Money program and the project continued under DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy. The commercialization effort received support from the lab’s technology innovation program and FedTech’s Startup Studio, a venture capital firm program dedicated to advancing advanced technology.

Safire plans to start developing prototypes with strategic partners. Parties interested in testing the technology or partnering with Safire should email [email protected].

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit

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