Hillel's Tech Corner: StoreDot: Batteries for 2021

Battery anxiety when your phone is about to run out has become a thing. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.

StoreDot (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
 It is no secret that most of you, the people reading this, probably have a supercomputer in your pocket otherwise known as a smartphone. It is also no secret that the automotive industry is going through a fundamental transformation from fuel automobiles to electric.
The best news of the month here in Israel is that Tesla, the king of electric cars, made its debut in the holy land. It was sold out in about 30 seconds.
When it comes to technology, we’ve made tremendous advances over the past decade, but I think we can all agree that battery technology has not advanced alongside the rest of the tech we use daily.
Battery anxiety when your phone is about to run out has become a thing. Don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Well, when it comes to battery technology, there is an Israeli company leading the way. Of course there is.
The company is called StoreDot and they have raised significant capital from some of the biggest names in the business.
StoreDot was founded in 2012 by industry veterans, Dr. Doron Myersdorf, Prof. Simon Litsyn, and materials expert Prof. Gil Rosenman. Doron completed his undergraduate and PhD degrees at the Technion, while Gil and Simon were researches at Tel Aviv University. Initially, the founders were material researchers in Tel Aviv University, and they wanted to examine the use of nano-materials in applications such as display screens, lasers, flash memory, batteries and more. They worked closely with Samsung to identify major markets and unmet needs, where synthetic treatment of small molecule organic compounds could be leveraged.
Since then, the team has evolved and identified an opportunity to facilitate extreme fast charging and thus to eliminate the major obstacles to mass adoption of electric vehicles. I mean, it’s one thing when you’re nervous that your phone battery is low. It’s another thing altogether when your car battery is about to die.
It’s not just the speed of charging that creates a barrier and inconvenience, it’s also the availability of and people’s proximity to fast chargers, and mostly the psychology around it – this is where “range anxiety” enters the equation. The notion that you can get stuck on the highway with no power is naturally scary to people. There is also maybe a new phenomenon that we’re calling “charging anxiety”, where drivers can actually reach a charging station without issue, but then face a long wait to be able to charge because there aren’t enough charging stations or there aren’t enough fast chargers.
Prior to founding StoreDot, Doron served as a senior director of SanDisk. He holds a PhD in R&D Management (1994), a master’s degree in information systems (cum laude, 1991) and a bachelor’s degree in Industrial Engineering Management (cum laude, 1989) – all from the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.
StoreDot has 110 employees, including 35 PhDs working from their Herzliya headquarters to build and optimize their solution.
While StoreDot’s battery technology can be applied in many industries, the company has chosen the electric vehicle market to focus on.
As far as StoreDot’s secret sauce, traditional Li-ion batteries anodes are based on graphite. The StoreDot battery replaces graphite with metalloids – transition metals (including silicon) – that allow improved energy density and leveraged capability of ion diffusion to improve charging time.
StoreDot’s next generation developments involve post-lithium solutions.
StoreDot has raised $130m in three rounds of financing from four strategic investors including Samsung, Daimler, BP, and TDK.
StoreDot also has a strategic manufacturing partner in China – EVE energy, who also has a partnership with BMW.
One of the most interesting and unique aspects of StoreDot is the team. This is not your typical start-up team. As mentioned, the team consists of 35 PhDs (research capacity of 2 research faculties!), specializing in a broad spectrum of disciplines, including chemistry, organic chemistry, nano-particles, molecule design, quantum physics, materials, electro-chemistry.
This holistic approach to the battery system, the integration of these multiple domains, is unique to StoreDot. Additionally, they have a complete rapid development cycle capability under one roof.
As far as the company’s success, in January 2021 StoreDot released, for the first time, engineering samples of Li-ion batteries that can be charged in five minutes, which was previously considered impossible. The samples were produced on standard Li-ion production. The significance is that it doesn’t force any major adaptation on the industry.
StoreDot is collaborating with its strategic partners across the entire ecosystem, to resolve the challenges that impede mass adoption of EVs. The company’s target audience are the world’s largest car manufacturers.
StoreDot was named a Bloomberg New Energy Finance Pioneer in 2020.
The company’s goal is that five minutes of charging will yield a driving range of 160 km. (100 miles).
According to a recent interview with the CEO, Dr. Doron Myersdorf, the company is aiming to mass produce its technology by 2025, so we are not quite there yet.
The company was valued at a half a billion dollars when it raised its last round of financing in 2017. Since then, the electric vehicle market has expanded significantly, which might value StoreDot at a few billion dollars.
Just to illustrate how exciting and promising the electric vehicle market is, one doesn’t have to look beyond Tesla, that’s valued at around $800 billion, which is approximately four times the value of companies like Toyota and eight times Volkswagen.
I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time with Dr. Myersdorf over the years and as far as CEOs go, you don’t get much more brilliant than Doron. He’s also laser-focused on the mission and is quite the visionary, which is a rare and unique combination.
As I’ve said many times before, the most exciting companies in tech are the ones that take an old industry like transportation, hospitality, communication, healthcare, or battery technology and totally revolutionize them using cutting edge innovations. StoreDot definitely fits that description. It’s no wonder the smartest people in the industry are paying close attention to this company!