Ann Arbor Startup’s Battery Cell Outperforms Lithium-ion Technology

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Ann Arbor-based Sakti3 has produced a battery cell that can more than double the usage time of a lithium-ion battery from 3.5 hours to more than nine hours, and can nearly double the range in an electric vehicle from 250 miles to 480 miles.

“It’s clearly a breakthrough — it’s a world’s best, made on a mass-production platform,” says Wei Lu, a University of Michigan professor and battery expert. “It’s not either/or in cost and performance in batteries anymore — Sakti3 has both. They built a really high-performance device on a really low-cost platform … It was quite a scientific feat.”

The company — founded in 2007 as a spinout from the University of Michigan’s College of Engineering — will market the new technology to consumer electronics before moving to other sectors, says CEO Ann Marie Sastry.

“Our target is to achieve mass production of cells at $100/kW,” says Sastry “Our key patents on the technology have been issued, we are up and running on larger tooling, and can now speed up processing.”

The new cell has more than 1,100-watt hours per liter in volumetric energy density, an upgrade from just over two years ago, Sastry says.

Sakti3 has received $30 million in venture funding from Khosla Ventures, GM Ventures, Itochu, and a grant from the state of Michigan.

IN OTHER U-M NEWS, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a treatment for the Type 1 form of Gaucher disease, an inherited disorder that affects more than 10,000 patients worldwide, who can experience liver and spleen enlargement, anemia, low blood platelet counts, and bone problems.

Cerdelga represents the first class of chemical entities conceived and developed at U-M to achieve FDA approval. Licensed to Genzyme Corp., Cerdelga offers an alternative to the other approved Gaucher disease treatment — an intravenous enzyme replacement.

“The approval by the FDA is an important milestone for Genzyme, our inventors, and the university,” says Ken Nisbet, associate vice president for research at U-M Tech Transfer.  “Cerdelga promises to be a landmark therapy for patients afflicted with Gaucher disease, and we congratulate all who helped bring this innovation to market.”

Company officials say they expect to make Cerdelga available to patients within the month.

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