SiNode Systems, based at Illinois Institute of Technology’s University Technology Park, develops materials that make batteries last longer and charge faster using graphene. The company has been granted a funding of $4 million from Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, along with the U.S. Department of Energy, to develop such improved batteries for the electric vehicle market.
Its technology, which commercializes a patented process developed at Northwestern University, can be used in any lithium-ion battery, such as those in cell phones or laptops. “Our early focus is smaller markets,” the company's CEO said. “The electric vehicle market is our long-term focus, and it’s the reason we started this company.”
The funding comes from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium, a subsidiary of the U.S. Council for Automotive Research. It’s comprised of the Big Three automakers and is meant to develop technologies that support the commercialization of hybrid and electric vehicles.
SiNode Systems hired five employees as a result of the contract, bringing its employee count to 15. The company will work with the automakers for 30 months, developing prototype batteries with their technology and materials that meet the automakers’ goals and prove the cars can go farther on a single charge.
The goal is to get a battery with higher energy density and less cost, so the automakers can produce electric vehicles that are cheaper and become more ubiquitous. Currently, the battery is one of the most expensive components in the vehicle, and it's also the one with the most opportunity for cost reduction.