Azusa, CA, United States

Contour Energy Systems

www.contourenergy.com
Azusa, CA, United States

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Grant
Agency: Department of Energy | Branch: | Program: STTR | Phase: Phase I | Award Amount: 100.00K | Year: 2010

The energy storage device is today


Patent
Contour Energy Systems | Date: 2011-10-14

A lithium-free, anion based charge transport electrochemical system that uses fluoride ion transporting electrolytes, including ionic liquids, with and without various additives to improve performance, is described. The fluoride ion transporting electrolyte can be wholly or partly an ionic liquid that is typically liquid at temperatures less than 200 degrees Celsius. In other embodiments, electrolytes that remain liquid at less than 100 degrees Celsius are useful.


Patent
Contour Energy Systems | Date: 2013-10-30

A lithium-free, anion based charge transport electrochemical system that uses fluoride ion transporting electrolytes, including ionic liquids, with and without various additives to improve performance, is described. The fluoride ion transporting electrolyte can be wholly or partly an ionic liquid that is typically liquid at temperatures less than 200 degrees Celsius. In other embodiments, electrolytes that remain liquid at less than 100 degrees Celsius are useful.


Patent
Contour Energy Systems | Date: 2011-01-20

Lithium anode based battery systems can use polymeric binding materials to act as particulate binders for fluorinated carbon based electrodes. The binders mechanically hold electrochemically active particles together, while inhibiting lithium fluoride crystallization that generates unwanted heat release in a discharging battery. Polymeric binders that include positively-charged groups, negatively-charged groups, electron deficient -anion receptor groups, or boronate-based fluoride receptor group can be used alone or in combination.


Non-aqueous electrochemical cells, and batteries formed of such cells are described. More particularly, use of electrochemical cells containing sub-fluorinated carbon-carbon composite as an active material for the positive electrode of such cells and batteries is disclosed. When used in conjunction with lithium anodes and a non-aqueous electrolyte, the electrochemical cell provides high discharge rate and excellent capacity utilization.


Patent
Contour Energy Systems | Date: 2010-12-09

A fluoride ion battery includes a substantially lithium-free anode and cathode. At least one of the anode or cathode contains fluorine, and a substantially lithium-free liquid electrolyte is used for charge transport. The electrolyte is liquid at temperatures below about 200 degrees Celsius, and can be formed from an organic-soluble fluoride salt dissolved in selected classes of solvents.


News Article | September 20, 2010
Site: gigaom.com

Battery startup Contour Energy Systems says it has developed a new battery technology using the volatile element fluorine that could deliver longer lasting, higher power batteries for devices spanning from smart meters to pacemakers, and — potentially years down the road — electric vehicles and laptops. The startup, which says these batteries can handle extreme temperatures, fired up its first assembly line this summer for its initial line of small, disposable single-cell batteries known as coin cells and today Contour also announced plans to ship that first commercial product next month. Formerly known as CFX Battery, Contour was spun out of Caltech in 2007 with three co-founders, including Caltech professor and Nobel Laureate Robert Grubbs; Rachid Yazami, who was leading research at France’s National Center for Scientific Research, or CNRS, and had been a visiting associate at Caltech; and André Hamwi, a professor and fluorine researcher affiliated with CNRS. Caltech’s technology transfer office invested in the startup early on and helped Contour raise its first $15 million. Contour says it has now raised a total of nearly $30 million in venture capital. Over the years Contour has stuck to its guns with a plan to focus first on building “primary” lithium batteries, which can’t be recharged. The idea is to gain a foothold in established, relatively high margin markets, and then reinvest the revenue into the company’s rechargeable battery work for applications that could include electric cars, cell phones and laptops, Eric Lind Vice President of Business Development, told us earlier this year. Among the applications for this first line of coin cells are tire pressure monitoring systems, LED lighting products, smart meters, RFID cards, sensors and bone growth stimulators. Contour has contracts in hand to sell the cells as drop-in replacements in some consumer devices, CEO Joseph Fisher told us in an interview. The “secret sauce” for Contour’s technology lies in the cathode, or the material through which electric current flows out of the battery. The company uses a combination of carbon and fluorine in a certain (undisclosed) ratio to one another. This compound is called CFx, with C standing for carbon, F for fluorine and X for the ratio (the genesis for the company’s early moniker). Carbon fluoride batteries are not new, but traditionally, Fisher explained, carbon and fluorine have been used in a one-to-one ratio to one another, and at that ratio batteries deliver less power and lower performance in very low temperatures compared to Contour’s devices. Contour has changed the “x factor,” or the ratio between carbon and fluorine, as well as the process for “baking” them together. And the company says it can customize the cathode for batteries in various applications by tweaking the process for introducing fluorine into the carbon structure. Depending on the application, Contour says its cells could last many times longer than state of the art batteries. In a wristwatch, LED product, or pacemaker, for example, Fisher said Contour’s cells could run about 40 percent longer, while delivering twice as much battery time for some drug delivery systems. In certain applications with a very high rate of discharge, such as in defibrillators, Contour says its cells could last 6-8 times longer. For some LED lighting applications, Contour’s battery could mean the difference between 24 hours and 40 hours, said Fisher. According to Fisher, Contour’s 45-person team (plus 10 contractors) has kicked into high gear since July, when the assembly line was opened at its Azusa, Calif. headquarters. “Once we got that line in is really when the work started,” he said, noting an effort to increase the line’s efficiency. In addition, he said, the qualification process with prospective device maker customers can’t begin until the production line is up and running. From there, testing can take about 9-18 months for medical and automotive applications and about 3-6 months for consumer devices, said Lind. Contour is currently producing cells that are about the size and shape of a nickel, in what’s known as a 2032 format (20 millimeter diameter and 3.2 millimeter height). As Fisher put it, the 2032 is like “the double-A of coin cells,” accounting for about 60 percent of the market. Eventually Contour plans to make 2025 and smaller 2016 coin cells, and beyond that much larger rechargeable batteries. However, the company does not have a large enough supply of carbon-fluoride powder for the cathode to make larger batteries at this point. According to Lind, Contour is now developing rechargeable batteries and hopes to commercialize the technology within a few years. The company’s grand vision will require some hefty capital to come to fruition. Fisher told us early this year that Contour had a “major effort under way” pursuing government funds from a range of sources, including grants and loans at the state and federal level, military projects, and programs funded by the Department of Energy, DARPA and the National Institute of Standards and Technology. That effort continues, and Fisher said Contour expects to get “significant assistance” from the federal government. According to Lind, Department of Energy and Defense Department programs are looking the most promising at this point. Last week, Fisher and Lind spoke with us from Washington, D.C., where they said they’re “laying groundwork” for future funding. For more research on electric vehicles and IT management check out GigaOM Pro (subscription required): Beyond the Breakthrough: Building A Better Battery Car Data As the Next Platform for Innovation


News Article | September 6, 2012
Site: gigaom.com

Innovation in battery manufacturing tends to take a really long time and can be pretty difficult. For startups, is there safety in numbers? Contour Energy Systems, which makes fluorine-based battery technology has acquired ActaCell, a lithium ion battery technology developer in Austin, Texas. The companies actually called the move “a merger” in the press release, but the first thing you learn as a business reporter is that there are no mergers. Contour Energy Systems has raised a lot more money than ActaCell, and ActaCell is becoming a subsidiary of Contour, so I think it’s safe to call it an acquisition. The companies didn’t release terms of the deal. I haven’t heard much about ActaCell in a couple years. The company was founded in 2007 and managed to raise a $5.8 million Series A round from well known investors including DFJ Mercury, Google.org’s RechargeIT program, Applied Ventures (the VC arm of Applied Materials), and Good Energies. That was back when Google was just starting to experiment with investing in some cleantech startups, and nowadays it has largely moved away from this strategy. ActaCell also raised a $3 million grant from the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Technology Innovation Program. According to SEC filings, ActaCell hasn’t raised any more funding since then. ActaCell has been working on commercializing low-cost, high-power lithium-ion battery materials based on tech from professor Arumugam Manthiram at the University of Texas at Austin. The company holds exclusive patents for making a cathode from manganese spinel, and an anode from a “high energy nanocomposite alloy.” Contour Energy Systems, on the other hand, closed a $20 million series C round back in October 2011 and had raised $30 million before that. Contour makes battery technology using the element fluorine, which is volatile but which could deliver longer lasting, higher power batteries for devices spanning from smart meters to pacemakers, and one day electric vehicles and laptops. Contour says Actacell’s battery tech will allow it to enter new markets and provide new products. ActaCell says in the release that it will be able to speed up its technology to a commercial phase more quickly in partnership with Contour.


News Article | October 5, 2010
Site: www.zdnet.com

When it comes to batteries, if it's not rechargeable, it better be long-lasting. And, customizable to boot. That's a sentiment being banked on by Contour Energy Systems, an Asuza, Calif.-based company that has just released a new line of lithium coin cell batteries based on its patented Fluorinetic technology. Contour's pitch is that the increasing portability of many applications -- essentially the rise of mobile and pervasive computing -- is creating a need for batteries with longer shelf life and improved discharge times. Contour Energy is using a carbon/fluorine combination to address the materials side of the equation, addressing some of fluorine's inherent volatility. The Fluorinetic technology uses a solid cathode that doesn't require certain toxic materials. It also can be tuned during the manufacturing process depending on the target application. The first Contour Energy batteries are based on the 2032 format, and they are expected in volume in the fourth quarter. Eric Lind, vice president of business development for Contour Energy, says the batteries can provide up to two-times the performance of traditional coin cell batteries. The company says the performance benefits when use for high-current applications is even greater, according to the company. According to Lind, among some of the markets that Contour Energy has in mind, although not necessarily for this product line, including automotive uses such as tire pressure gauges, industrial applications such as smart meters or memory back-up systems, or medical monitoring systems and drug dispensing devices. Contour Energy will also target consumer applications, such as home electronics and toys and even three-dimensional glasses, Lind says.

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