Startup Group1 wants to market the world’s first potassium-ion battery

Image: CC 3.0 – Jacobs School of Engineering, UC San Diego.

The Group1 startup aims to market cathode materials for potassium ion batteries, a world first.

Austin, USA-based Group1 says its Prussian Potassium White (KPW) cathode materials lead to safer, high-efficiency, fast-charging potassium-ion batteries, and these can be a durable and definitive alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

Founded last year, it is led by its three co-founders, CEO Alexander Girau, Chief Scientific Officer Dr Yakov Kutsovsky and Chief Product Officer Dr Leigang Xue, who invented Group1’s proprietary KPW technology as a postdoctoral researcher in the lab. of John B. Goodenough, the inventor of the lithium-ion battery.

As our transition from fossil fuels accelerates, the demand for lithium-ion batteries is skyrocketing, and our lithium supplies will soon no longer be able to meet this demand. Group 1 batteries and potassium ion batteries can offer a viable alternative to fill this supply gap.

Alexandre Girau, CEO of Group1.

So far, potassium ion battery technology has been “promising but still immature”.

It can reach capacities of 120 mAh/g, only 60% of those of lithium-ion, and it also has a lower power density due to its open structure. The latter makes it suitable for the Energy Storage Systems (ESS) space.

It uses much more abundant materials, such as potassium, manganese and iron, which are more suitable than nickel, cobalt and lithium, the prices of which exploded last year.

The lack of large-scale potassium ion cathode producers is another hurdle, with commercial production of such batteries expected to approach 2030 unless a large producer interested in chemistry steps it up.

Group1 claims that the potassium used in its technology is 1,000 times more abundant than lithium and 20 times more affordable, although the latter claim may depend heavily on recent price increases. It also claims its battery has a better safety profile than lithium-ion and faster, more efficient charging, and can be easily integrated into existing lithium-ion graphite anode materials, electrolytes, design and the manufacture of cells. .

Girau previously founded Advano, a start-up that produces advanced silicon anode material to replace graphite in lithium-ion batteries, while Dr. Kutsovsky previously served as chief technical officer at global specialty materials maker Cabot Corporation.

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