Manganese-rich cathode materials developed by Stratus Materials for lithium-ion batteries are reported to overcome challenges related to stability and cycling

February 7, 2023

PITTSBURGH— For years, the lithium-ion battery industry has been seeking the performance and cost advantages of a high-manganese cathode chemistry, but these cathodes have faced persistent challenges with stability and cycling.

A company that recently emerged from stealth mode is working to provide an answer. Stratus Materials Inc., previously operating as 33 Tech Inc., is a developer and manufacturer of next-generation cathode active materials for lithium-ion batteries. The company was founded in early 2022 to commercialize a set of highly promising, manganese-rich, cobalt-free cathode innovations by a team led by Dr. Jay Whitacre, a Carnegie Mellon University professor and serial entrepreneur, according to a release from Stratus Materials.

Using proprietary formulations and production processes, the Stratus Materials team has developed manganese-rich, zero-cobalt cathode materials that reportedly deliver outstanding functionality, energy density, stability, low cost, and input materials availability. As a result, these materials are said to overcome the challenges that have hindered high-manganese systems to date.

Stratus Materials is focused on scaling the production of these novel cathode materials, which are specifically targeted at light- and medium-duty electric vehicles, as well as other applications with similar performance requirements, the company said.

“Our innovative processes and materials are designed to provide the lithium-ion battery industry with cathode offerings that outperform best-in-class NMC cathode formulations on virtually every dimension, without relying on cobalt and with significantly less nickel and lithium per kilowatt-hour,” said Jay Whitacre, CEO and CTO of Stratus Materials, in a statement. “We are extremely excited about engaging more broadly with potential customers and partners.”

In mid-2022, the company completed a $12 million Series A financing led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV), with participation from DNS Capital.

“Energy density, cost, materials availability, and safety are critical factors for a battery technology to enable full EV adoption and production,” said Carmichael Roberts, of Breakthrough Energy Ventures, in the release. “The Stratus Materials team has developed a set of cathode active materials that address and optimize each of these parameters, enabling EVs to scale to new levels.”

Stratus Materials is currently producing its proprietary cathode active material at an early pilot-scale, and is providing samples to a small group of potential initial customers. The company said its mission is to “offer a highly compelling combination of performance, safety, cost, and environmental impact to leading battery manufacturers and their downstream OEM customers.”

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