Just a few days ago, we published an article about Ample, the Silicon Valley company that is promoting battery swapping for electric vehicles as a way to deal with the challenge of keeping them charged up and ready to drive anywhere as needed. Perhaps we are prescient, but we have said on several occasions that better batteries are coming that will make range and charging anxiety a thing of the past. Today comes word that Prieto, a startup based in Fort Collins, Colorado, has unveiled a prototype of a battery it says works at -30º F as well as it works at temperatures above 100º F.
That’s good news, but what is even more exciting about Prieto is that its 3D batteries can be fully charged from 0 to 100% in just 3 minutes and are nonflammable. In a press release, Preito says all its claims have been independently verified by a third-party accredited battery testing lab.
What Is A 3D Battery?
On its website, Prieto says, “Today’s batteries are 2D, meaning energy only flows in one direction over a two-dimensional plane. To charge, ions must flow from one surface to the other, resulting in serious limitations. Thicker batteries hold more energy but the long ion pathway means slow charging. Thinner batteries can charge faster but cannot hold much energy.
“We reimagined a battery’s architecture and have designed the world’s first truly 3D battery to deliver 360-degree ionic transfer. Very short ion pathways without compromising surface area means both hyper-fast charging and high energy density.”
Here’s a video that explains this new technology.
“Prieto’s battery will charge faster than you can fill your car’s gas tank,” said Mike Rosenberg, Prieto CEO. “When you charge your car faster than gassing up, range is no longer a hindrance and everyone becomes a potential EV buyer. A three-minute charge fundamentally changes how companies can design their products and how consumers use them.” He claims the rapid charging capability applies to any size battery.
“Prieto is the only battery that we are aware of that will not only operate but will also charge at -30 degrees Celsius,” explained Rosenberg. “As we learned this past winter when extreme cold weather hit North America, many people were left stranded with dead EVs. Our battery would have allowed these EVs to continue to operate and charge, instilling confidence in drivers to rely on their EVs even in extreme temperatures.” Actually, around the CleanTechnica smokeless firepit, we don’t recall a lot of stories about dead EVs last winter, so that part seems to be hyperbole. Hopefully, the claims for the Prieto battery are real, not puffery.
The company says its 3D architecture and design ensure the battery is not flammable or combustible. A third-party lab conducted the gold standard “nail penetration test” on the Prieto battery. Not only was there no fire or explosion, the battery continued to operate.
“The Prieto battery operates safely and will not catch fire like traditional lithium-ion batteries,” Rosenberg said. “The 3D architecture and the materials we use ensure that our batteries will not experience thermal runaways or fires, which gives consumers peace of mind.”
“Our founder, Dr. Amy Prieto, reimagined the entire architecture of a conventional battery and developed the first 3D inter-digitated battery,” said Rosenberg. “We’re introducing a better architecture and a better process, which results in a better battery and a superior consumer experience. This is truly the next evolution that will redefine the way we power our lives.”
The Past, The Present, & The Future
Prieto’s 3D architecture is completely different from all other batteries, the company says. Today’s batteries use a decades-old 2D architecture that must always be a compromise between energy storage and fast charging. “We have dramatically shortened the diffusion length in any direction, which takes charging to hyper-speed and delivers more power and energy storage than 2D batteries,” said Dr. Prieto, founder and chief technology officer of Prieto. “The core of our battery looks like a thin copper sponge, and the ions only have to travel from one strand to the next, a fraction of the distance in traditional 2D batteries.”
Prieto’s battery is designed to deliver five times the power density (20C discharge rate) and up to three times the energy density of conventional 2D batteries. It is customizable to any size or application, making it ideal for anything from electric vehicles to power tools, medical devices to mobile phones and small home appliances.
Prieto Features Simple, Low-Cost Manufacturing
The new Prieto battery is made from low cost, sustainable materials using a simple and scalable process. Prieto uses a proven water-based electroplating process at room temperature and its process requires no dry rooms, clean rooms, or other expensive equipment.
“From day one I prioritized manufacturing ahead of the battery design, and I knew to reimagine the battery we would first have to simplify production to scale up quickly, efficiently, and affordably,” said Dr. Prieto. The manufacturing yield rate at the company’s present laboratory is more than 90%.
“We now turn our focus to commercialization as we finalize plans to build our pilot manufacturing facility,” said Rosenberg. “Our high yield rates, combined with our simple and familiar manufacturing process used in many other industries, will ultimately result in much lower costs than traditional lithium-ion batteries and gives us a great degree of confidence.” Prieto says it is currently in discussions for manufacturing and applications with potential partners.
Prieto says on its website that unlike most batteries today, which are made using hazardous materials and expensive equipment such as dry rooms, clean rooms, and high temperature processes, it started not with the battery but with the manufacturing process. “Our goal was simple — develop a highly scalable process using low-cost sustainable materials. Our patented process uses water, electricity, and mild chemicals like citric acid at room temperature. The process is simple and scalable,” the company says.
We see a lot of battery news come across our desks here at CleanTechnica. Some of the breakthroughs are real and some are an illusion. Prieto has not come up on our radar before, so we have no track record we can rely on.
We do know that companies like QuantumScape and StoreDot have been working on new and improved battery technology for years, but their batteries have not yet been installed in any production vehicles, to the best of our knowledge. Earlier this month, CALB introduced what it calls its U-shaped battery, which it says dramatically shortens how far electrons have to travel between the cathode and the anode. The company says the shortened pathways mean the new batteries can be recharged in ten minutes.
Better, cheaper, faster charging batteries are coming, there’s no doubt about that. Will Prieto be a name that defines the new era of batteries the way CATL does today? “We’ll see,” said the Zen Master.