Argonne National Laboratory has granted an exclusive license to Colorado-based nano-coating specialist Forge Nano to commercialize Argonne’s patented system for continuous atomic layer deposition.
Atomic layer deposition (ALD) is a process that deposits a uniform, ultrathin encapsulating coating around any material. It can be used to upgrade materials such as powders utilized in
lithium-ion batteries, fuel cells and ultracapacitors. ALD allows for coating thicknesses down to Angstroms (1/100,000th the thickness of a human hair). Such control allows
the application of coatings that are thick enough to eliminate unwanted reactions that cause degradation, yet thin enough not to adversely affect desirable material properties.
ALD coatings are a compelling coating solution for eliminating capacity fade and enabling higher overall performance and safety in batteries. ALD has existed for decades, but it has remained a lab-scale process utilized primarily by academics. Forge Nano has successfully demonstrated a high-throughput process for applying ALD, which has the potential to reduce the cost of energy storage devices while improving their performance and safety.
Forge Nano says its coatings can increase cathode material lifetimes more than 250% while enabling higher capacity nickel-rich battery chemistries. The company is also demonstrating similar gains for anode materials such as conventional graphite and emerging silicon-based materials.
Forge Nano recently commissioned a production plant for ALD-enabled materials with a capacity of 300 tons per year, and is currently constructing a 3,000-ton-per-year plant, which is scheduled to come online in early 2018.