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UMD Spinoff Firm Powers Up State’s First Solid-State Battery Production Line

Researcher’s Green Energy Innovations Will Be Used in Defense Department Electronics

By Catherine O'Brien Stephens

Ion Storage Systems workers pose

From left: Ion Storage Systems founder and Executive Chair Eric Wachsman, Todd Crescenzo of Clear Creek Investments, U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Ion Storage Systems CEO Ricky Hanna, U.S. Rep. Glenn Ivey, Mark Fields of Alsop Louie, Ion Storage Systems founder and Chief Technology Officer Greg Hitz.

A University of Maryland startup on Monday revved up one of the largest U.S. factories for solid-state batteries (SSBs), giving a boost to the nation’s adoption of green technologies.

The plant in Beltsville, Md., will be the first of its kind in the state to produce batteries that charge faster and store more power than lithium-ion batteries and will initially be used in Department of Defense applications, according to Ion Storage Systems, the manufacturer.

Founded in 2019, the company has developed a groundbreaking 3D ceramic electrolyte architecture spun out of UMD’s Maryland Energy Innovation Institute. Its core technology is the brainchild of Distinguished University Professor Eric Wachsman, company co-founder with chief technology officer Greg Hitz ’09, Ph.D. ’16.

Ion Storage Systems recently announced that its anode-less and compression-less SSB exceeded 125 cycles with less than 5% capacity degradation in performance, offering the potential for more than 1,000 cycles in future deployments. It has been working with the Pentagon and UMD’s Center for Research in Extreme Batteries to rigorously test its SSB before expanding into other markets, including electric vehicles, consumer electronics and grid storage.

At an event last week, Ion Storage Systems commissioned a new automated cell production line, with guests including U.S. Senate and House of Representatives members as well as state delegates in attendance.

“As we transition to cleaner energy sources and reduce pollution, we need improved battery and energy storage technology,” said U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland. ”Today’s production launch shows how we can leverage the innovation and ingenuity at our institutions to generate American manufacturing jobs right here in Maryland.” U.S. Rep. Glenn Ivey, who represents Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties, congratulated ION for the company’s innovative technologies and said he hopes to see more green jobs generated in his district.

“I am proud that this company is born from the R&D of our flagship state school, the University of Maryland at College Park,” Ivey said. “Federal grants from ARPA-E in the Department of Energy have furthered the development of this innovative technology, and collaboration with the University of Maryland and the Department of Defense ensures that we give our warfighters made-in-America technology that prevents adversaries from undercutting our national security capabilities.”

In addition, the company claims the batteries are 100% recyclable and produce 40% more power than conventional lithium-ion cells currently in consumer electronics and electric vehicles. "It's a new approach and it's a safer way to go," Ivey said.

To date Ion Storage Systems’ technology has received over $30 million in federal funds and over $40 million in private investment. Thanks to its recent supply agreement with and investment by Saint-Gobain, the firm is poised to manufacture its patented solid-state batteries at scale. It is partnering with various government agencies to demonstrate the viability of its SSBs to sustain operations in highly demanding environments.



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