Yesterday, MIT's Technology Review took a closer look at a new process for manufacturing ionic battery electrolytes by Boulder Ionic that could mean the end for traditional lithium ion technology. The electrolyte, called Iolyte, is made of ionic salts which aren't flammable and don't evaporate, which could alleviate some of USPS' recent safety concerns surrounding the shipment of lithium batteries. These ionic salts could make solid-state metal-air batteries a possibility, which offer a potential tenfold increase in capacity per volume over lithium-polymer batteries.
Iolyte can also be used as a drop-in replacement for the electrolyte used in supercapacitors, which have been lauded for their lightning-fast charging and solid-state stability. Supercapacitors have not been more widely utilized, however, due to their expense and limited voltage range. Boulder Ionic is claiming that Iolyte can turn all that around by creating high-voltage supercaps, which could lead to environmentally-friendly capacitor banks that can store energy from wind and solar farms during off-peak times.
The technology sector has seen its fair share of would-be lithium-ion killers, but the test of a next-generation battery technology is industrial scalability. Boulder Ionic, on the other hand, thinks it can not only produce vast quantities of Iolyte, but beat the cost of the electrolyte used in lithium batteries due to a safer, more controlled manufacturing process.
Boulder Ionic was founded late in 2010 and has since raised $4.3 million in funding according to GigaOM. The company's official website states that is is already working with "several strategic partners and industry leaders" and expects to see Iolyte-powered commercial products on the market by the middle of this year. Boulder Ionic even offers two sample chemistries of Iolyte for sale right now, which gives us the impression that this technology is a bit farther along than others we've seen.