ALPE – Commercializing the Next Generation of Rechargeable Lithium Batteries


Alpha-En Corp (OTC:ALPE) is a technology development company focused on enabling next-generation battery technologies through the development of processes that target significant performance advances for lithium batteries, specifically the production of very high purity lithium metal through a patent-pending process. This production process, which is currently in the developmental stage, also appears to be well suited for the production of lithium metal anodes, a critical component of the next generation rechargeable lithium batteries. Alpha-En is in the process of commercializing its thin-film lithium anode metal deposition process and has started the preliminary steps to scaling-up the development and manufacturing design of both processes.

Alpha-En Corp’s high purity lithium metal production process has advantages over the traditional ingot method that involves the electrolysis of molten salts at high temperatures (at and above 400° C). Alpha-En’s process occurs at 25° C and meaningfully reduces production costs through lower energy requirements and does not produce chlorine gas as a byproduct. Alpha-En’s electrolytic deposition process yields a layer of extremely pure (99.997% in lab tests) lithium metal onto a range of different conductive substrates without nonconductive impurities. The process allows precise control of lithium morphology to form a well defined, densely packed and uniform nanostructure, which is expected to improve mechanical stability, enhance the electrochemical process, improve cycling characteristics and suppress the formation of dendrites. 

In August 2017, alpha-En entered into a joint research program with Mercedes-Benz and Princeton University to investigate their pure lithium metal thin film technology to determine how it could potentially improve cycling performance and its commercial potential for inclusion in the next-generation of electric vehicle batteries. In September 2017, Argonne National Laboratory was granted a $750,000 award from the DOE to help commercialize a solid-state electrolyte coating, which is being tested in conjunction with alpha-En’s lithium metal process to produce a next-generation battery. In July 2018, Cornell University agreed to research alpha-En’s lithium thin film production process. The project focused on quantifying the thin film’s capacity and providing a visual, real-time demonstration of the deposition process so that battery manufacturers can properly consider alpha-En s technology.

Rechargeable lithium-ion batteries have become ubiquitous, powering electric vehicles (EVs), grid-scale energy storage units and portable electronic devices, such as smartphones, cellphones laptops, tablets, etc. The burgeoning growth of devices and systems dependent on electrical storage is driving development of the next generation of batteries. Lithium continues to be a leading candidate as a key material for the next-generation of rechargeable batteries. 

Valuation analysis for companies that are advancing new disruptive technologies is a very challenging exercise, especially when they are pre-revenue entities in the development stage. Alpha-En has a limited operating history of about 10 years and has not yet generated any revenues. The company burns cash at a rate of approximately $450,000 per quarter and has accumulated a deficit of $23.0 million as of June 2018. Nonetheless, alpha-En has been successful raising capital to sustain operations, receiving $1.0 million in equity financing with a strategic investor in June 2018 and two $1.7 million private placements with several accredited and institutional investors in February 2018 and May 2017. 

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