A breeding ground for French startups: Page 5 of 5

October 14, 2014 // By Julien Happich
Taking place from the 6th to the 9th of October in Grenoble's AlpExpo exhibition centre, SEMICON Europa not only packed an impressive number of presentations and forums, ranging from Semiconductor processing and packaging to Plastic Electronics, MEMS manufacturing and test issues, the exhibition also hosted a buoyant “Innovation Village” where French startups pitched their ideas and showcased their product concepts.
A producer of cellulose-laden Li-ion battery cell separation membranes, SepCell has patented a new type of separators consisting of PolyOxyEthylene reinforced with up to 10% of crystalline cellulose nanofibers, which the company claims make the separator much stronger and more puncture resistant than expensive alternatives.

The company which has yet to be officially launched early 2015, is already working with a battery manufacturer to produce pre-series.

“A typical failure mode of Li-ion batteries is due to the formation of lithium dentrites that grow from the anode until they reach the membrane and puncture it”, explained Yannick Molméret, Co-Founder of SepCell.

“By adding cellulose fibres to the membrane, we make it about 40 times more puncture resistant than standard reinforced membranes, yet it remains lightweight and thin”, Molméret added.

On top of its 150 MPa mechanical resistance, at 60°C the membrane’s conductivity is 2.10-4 S.cm-1, better than standard solutions, hence requiring less heating to remain functional in a car battery.

In the lab, the aqueous manufacturing process yields membranes about 20µm thin, but with further development, the company hopes to reach a thickness below 10µm for commercialization by 2016. Rather than produce the membrane itself, in the future the company may well be licensing its technology to battery manufacturers.

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