Envia and GM Get Together Again −

Envia and GM Get Together Again

envia-batteryRemember Envia? Like many other promising green startups, Envia promised a breakthrough EV battery that could take cars 200 miles per charge in an affordable car. Then the whole house of cards collapsed, leaving partners like GM wondering what the hell happened.

Maybe it’s true you can’t teach old dogs new tricks, because GM is once again partnering with Envia in a $3.8 million battery research project funded by the Department of Energy. Here we go again?

Envia is one of six companies to get a total of over $17 million in battery research grants, and that list includes names like 3M, Penn State University, and Argonne National Laboratory. Envia got the most money though, with Green Car Congress reporting that the once-failed battery maker is;

“…leading a $3.8-million project that includes Lawrence Berkeley and Oak Ridge National Laboratories and General Motors. Envia has licensed Lithium-rich Layered-Layered Li2MnO3·LiMO2 composite patents from Argonne National Laboratory, and has developed HCMR (High Capacity Manganese Rich) cathodes based on these layered-layered composite structures.

Envia tailors HCMR based on the application (e.g., hybrid, pug-in hybrid or EV) using particle morphology, composition and nanocoatings. With one HCMR type in production (XP), Envia has two others in R&D (XE and XLE). In the ABR program, Envia is currently using an HCMR XLE cathode (240~280 mAh/g). While HCMR offers high capacity and safety and low cost, it can be challenged by high DC-Resistance, voltage fade upon cycling and poor durability.

The team plans to integrate the HCMR cathode material with a Si-C anode. Envia’s anode material will be paired with LBNL’s conductive binder to enable the long cycle and calendar life meeting ABR PHEV goals.”

The only problem as I see it is the last time Envia made promises of a breakthrough battery, it failed to replicate results that wowed partners like ARPA-E and General Motors in the first place. But Envia is back to try again on the taxpayer’s dime. Fool me once, shame on me, fool me twice, shame on the DOE? Or does Envia deserve a second chance?


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About the Author

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing -- otherwise, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.
  • My understanding/take: Envia made it sound like its technology was further along than it was. Everything got nasty when GM realized that it wasn’t. But, still, Envia may have one of the more promising options in the lab. The lead researcher/CTO said he simply needed more time, and blamed the CEO of not representing the engineering team and needs well in negotiations.

    On the other hand, the CEO said that the CTO had deceived him, GM, and the DOE.

    I don’t really know, but I’ve always been a little more inclined to believe that the first story matched reality better.