Power 3D Wins $75K DOE Microbattery Design Prize

Power 3D Inc., an early-stage I-Corps startup looking to commercialize a novel battery manufacturing process using 3D-printed lithium-ion batteries, has received a $75,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through its Microbattery Design Prize initiative.

Offered through the DOE Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office, the prize is designed to advance innovative new designs for microbatteries and accelerate their commercialization and integration into existing technologies needed for clean energy manufacturing. Eight prizes were awarded, for a total of $600,000.

Power 3D is a company formed around technology developed through a collaboration between Carnegie Mellon University and Missouri S&T. That technology, licensed by Power 3D from CMU, is a new method of 3D printing battery electrodes that creates a 3D microlattice structure with controlled porosity. Using this structure vastly improves the capacity and charge-discharge rates for lithium-ion batteries, researchers showed in a paper published in the journal Additive Manufacturing.

“Our process can improve battery energy density by 50 percent and decrease charge times, while also allowing for flexible design in cell shape and size,” said Alex Sanchez, chief technology officer of Power 3D and a CMU graduate with master’s degrees in chemical engineering and engineering & technology innovation management.

The original research team includes Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor Rahul Panat and mechanical engineering Ph.D. student Mohammad Sadeq Saleh, from Carnegie Mellon, as well as Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering Assistant Professor Jonghyun Park and postdoctoral researcher Jie Li, from Missouri S&T.

The Power 3D team participated in an NSF I-Corps Hub Mid-Atlantic Region cohort during the winter of 2023, and an NSF I-Corps National Teams cohort starting in April 2023.

“I-Corps was an enlightening experience,” said Sanchez, who joined the Power 3D team as chief technical officer to help bring the technology to market. “It was a good way to learn how an idea should be developed into a product or company. I enjoyed learning how to validate our assumptions to propel our idea forward.”

Peter Scott, an industry mentor for the I-Corps team, joined the company as co-founder and CEO.

Since then, Power 3D has applied for SBIR funding from multiple sources.

“We’re continuing to research the technology in the lab,” said Sanchez. “In addition, we are working on proving out the next iteration of a prototype to be scaled up for commercialization.”

Source: Additive Manufacturing 23 (2018) 70-78. SEM images of 3D printed electrodes for Li-ion batteries used for electrochemical cycling in the researchers’ study. Image taken from top of microlattice electrodes with height of about 250mm.