Expanding Commercial Lithium-Sulfur Battery Development Using Novel 3D Graphene Materials
Lyten, Inc. has announced $200 million in equity funding from strategic investors to expand the commercial development of energy-dense lithium-sulfur batteries using the company’s proprietary Lyten 3D Graphene supermaterial.
San Jose start-up Lyten, Inc. has announced $200 million in funding to expand the commercialization of lithium-sulfur energy storage batteries based on its proprietary 3D Graphene materials.
Applications for lithium-sulfur batteries made with 3D Graphene. Image used courtesy of Lyten
Compared to traditional lithium-ion batteries, lithium-sulfur cells have the potential for twice the energy density and require no NMC (nickel, manganese, and cobalt) or graphite.
In addition to lithium-sulfur batteries, the company will use its novel 3D Graphene technology to commercialize general-purpose, lightweight composite materials and next-generation sensors.
The recent funding was led by Prime Movers Lab with participation from strategic investors across multiple industries, including Stellantis, FedEx, and Honeywell. The $200 million brings total funding for Lyten to $410 million.
3D Graphene Supermaterial
Initially conceived in the 1960s, graphene is a single-layer sheet of carbon atoms that, as a material, has exceptional strength, flexibility, and conductivity while also being very lightweight.
Despite the promise of the supermaterial, commercialization beyond research and development settings has been challenging. Lyten’s work has focused on this challenge since the company’s founding in 2015.
3D Graphene is a commercial variant of graphene that transforms it from a two-dimensional sheet to a three-dimensional material that retains graphene’s performance characteristics but is more useful to work with in practical applications.
2D and 3D graphene. Image used courtesy of Lyten
Lyten develops its 3D Graphene using proprietary reactor technology developed from the semiconductor industry. Methane is transformed into carbon and hydrogen, and the carbon, now sequestered from the environment, is used to create 3D graphene.
In addition to improved commercial viability, the three-dimensional structure of 3D Graphene allows its specific properties, such as strength, hardness, and electrical conductivity, to be “tunable.” In this way, the properties of the material can be modified to the specific needs of an application.
3D Graphene is formed from methane. Image used courtesy of Lyten
Lithium-Sulfur Batteries - Opportunities and Challenges
A lithium-sulfur battery uses sulfur as the cathode and lithium as the anode, compared to lithium-ion batteries that use lithium compounds for the cathode and carbon for the anode.
Lithium-sulfur and lithium-ion batteries., Image used courtesy of Tycorun
Lithium-ion batteries have a long operating history with a proven track record, but lithium-sulfur offers the potential for much higher energy densities, which can impact mobile platforms like electric vehicles.
However, the sulfur material used in lithium-sulfur batteries can degrade over time, reducing the battery’s cycle life. Sulfur tends to have lower conductivity, which can negatively impact its efficiency and power output, affecting its ability to quickly deliver its stored energy.
Lithium-sulfur batteries have higher energy densities. Image used courtesy of Lyten
With its 3D Graphene supermaterial, Lyten aims to address these material challenges with a commercial lithium-sulfur battery that can compete head-to-head with lithium-ion, providing more energy storage density at a lower cost.
Commercializing Lithium-Sulfur Batteries
This past June, Lyten announced the commissioning of its lithium-sulfur battery pilot line at the company’s 145,000-square-foot Silicon Valley facility.
The pilot line will begin delivering commercial lithium-sulfur batteries to early adopters in the defense, automotive, logistics, and satellite industries through 2024, with the deliveries supporting testing and qualification of the battery type in key commercial sectors.
As currently configured, the pilot line has a total production capacity of about 200,000 cells per year, but the funding will support capacity expansion as end-user demand for the battery technology grows.