Saratoga Energy — whose breakthrough process for synthesizing graphite from carbon dioxide could revolutionize lithium-ion battery production — has won a million-dollar Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the Department of Energy to help commercialize its innovation.
“Graphite is an essential material in advanced lithium-ion batteries,” said Drew Reid, Saratoga Energy’s CEO. “Our process produces graphite more sustainably and affordably than traditionally-sourced graphite, which is mined in Asia or synthesized from petroleum.”
In addition to offering sustainable sourcing and cost benefits, Saratoga Energy’s graphite also has performance advantages. Graphite made with its patented process can charge and discharge more quickly, making it ideal for electric vehicle customers.
“People can spend less time plugged in and more time driving, which helps EVs be more competitive with gas vehicles,” said Reid.
Additionally, the company’s graphite – which is synthesized from carbon dioxide – has a negligible carbon footprint, making it attractive to companies committed to sustainability.
The DOE SBIR program is designed to advance clean energy technologies that show good potential for commercial success and job creation, and businesses across the country compete for the grants. Berkeley, California-based Saratoga Energy won the $1 million grant based on a promising prototype funded by a DOE SBIR Phase I grant awarded last year.
“To get a Phase II grant, you have to show a clear and logical path toward commercialization. We have a few more steps to go before commercialization, and this grant will help get us there,” Reid said.
The SBIR Phase II grant will help Saratoga establish a pilot production facility, ramp up production, and optimize processes. It will also go toward demonstrating fast-charging capability in large-format lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles.
Saratoga Energy’s plans include scaling up production tenfold, to about 1 kilogram per day; sharing samples with interested companies developing batteries for electric vehicles; and further refining the company’s production and post-production processes.
Affordable, high-performance lithium-ion batteries are considered critical to the emerging clean energy economy, from incorporating renewable energy into the electric grid to furthering the deployment of electric vehicles.