Angstron Materials, Inc. took delivery of specialized HVAC and dehumidification equipment early this year to complete new dry rooms in building space adjacent to its manufacturing facility. The dry rooms provide a controlled environment for accelerated development and production of Angstron’s nano graphene anode material for high performance batteries. The dry room capability and added building space also support Dayton’s ongoing efforts to grow advanced materials technologies says Timothy Downs, deputy director of Dayton’s Office of Economic Development.
Angstron’s dry rooms number among only a few in Ohio that are operational and have the capacity to support quick commercialization activities. The equipment holds relative humidity in one room below 10 percent while humidity in the second dry room is held at less than 1 percent.
“The components, chemicals and materials used in batteries react to moisture in the air, so it’s critical to maintain a controlled environment,” says David Neff, materials engineer for Angstron.
Nanotek Instruments Inc., the parent company of Angstron Materials was issued U.S. patent 7,745,047 in June 2010 for its graphene-based anode technology, which provides very high specific capacity and stable charge-discharge cycling for lithium-ion batteries. It is one of the first patents to cover a broad range of graphitic materials ranging from graphite and meso-phase products to carbon fibers and carbon nanomaterials.
“Anodes composed of inorganic materials like silicon, germanium and various metal oxide materials tend to experience fragmentation during charge-discharge cycles due to expansion and contraction of the anode,” Neff said. “This also shortens battery life. We’ve solved these problems by using graphene sheets to support anode particles or coatings. This approach eliminates fragmentation and allows a high-capacity material like silicon to be used in an anode for significantly longer battery life.”
The company is currently working to raise an additional $8 to $10 million to scale up production and bring its technology to the marketplace.
“The dry rooms give Angstron a significant competitive advantage over other businesses working in this area because of the flexibility they provide,” says David Burton, executive vice-president of Angstron. “The alternative, glove boxes, tends to be restrictive in space and limit the ability for accelerated product development. In addition to efficiently running small production lots, the dry rooms will support pilot production of cells and batteries.”
Nanotek Instruments also holds patents for processes to produce Li-ion secondary batteries and exfoliated graphite-based hybrid material compositions for battery anodes. Angstron Materials is headquartered in Dayton, Ohio and is the world’s largest producer of nano graphene platelets (also called NGPs) and the only manufacturer able to produce pristine graphene. Angstron offers six different graphene products, both oxide and pristine, in varying thicknesses and dimensions. The manufacturer also works with companies and researchers to select the right material; functionalize it and gain access to critical process efficiencies. These steps dramatically reduce the risk associated with innovative product development.