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NSF - Partnerships for Innovation - Technology Translation (PFI-TT) Program awarded $250k to Professor Mangolini and his group

The project titled "Paving the way to the commercialization of additives that boost battery performance" will continue supporting ongoing efforts by the Mangolini group to develop new and improved battery technologies. This grant in particular will support the partnership between the Mangolini group at UC Riverside and Polaris Lab, a well-established testing-and-validation facility in Oregon, with the goal of bringing new technologies to market.

Project abstract: The broader impact/commercial potential of this Partnership for Innovation - Technology Translation (PFI-TT) project comes from the development of additives that provide an immediate boost in battery capacity without introducing any changes to their manufacturing scheme. The lack of affordable higher-capacity batteries is recognized as a barrier to the broad utilization of, for instance, electric vehicles and renewable energy sources. Improved batteries are needed to support a transition to a greener and more sustainable society. The development of additives that can be easily integrated in current battery designs will facilitate their implementation and future commercialization, giving them a crucial advantage at a time when the battery market is both rapidly expanding and becoming increasingly competitive. This NSF PFI-TT grant will support technological validation and the development of prototypes for field-testing, both necessary step towards successful commercialization. The PI will leverage both the existing close collaboration with the Entrepreneurial Proof of Concept and Innovation Center (EPIC) and the presence of a large population of students from under-represented minorities at UCR Riverside, an accredited Hispanic Serving Institution, to provide unique training opportunities not only in science and engineering but also in entrepreneurship.

The proposed project will target additives based on silicon, which, while having much higher lithiation capacity than broadly utilized graphite, has yet to be adopted by battery manufacturers on a large scale. This is due to both technical (silicon alone has poor stability over many charge-discharge cycles) and economic (silicon can be made stable but this requires complex designs) issues. This project will overcome these limitations. A simple, single-stage carbon coating step enables the integration of silicon powders into graphite-dominant anodes. Careful control of the process parameters allows realizing a high-quality carbon coating, which is crucial for the successful utilization of the additives. By developing a ?drop-in? additive, this technology enables an increase in battery capacity without requiring any capital intensive investment for the battery manufacturers. As part of this project, this core technology will be advanced and the results in terms of capacity improvement and cycle stability will be validated by independent testing facilities. By the completion of this project, battery prototypes that incorporate silicon-based additives will be field-tested under real-life conditions.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.