Ilika plc (LON:IKA) Chief Executive Officer Graeme Purdy caught up with DirectorsTalk for an exclusive interview to discuss the launch of their solid state battery technology ‘Stereax’, the importance of combining energy harvesting and battery technology, why lithium ion batteries cannot be used for IoT applications and what’s next for Ilika
Q1: Today you announced the launch of your Stereax solid state battery technology, where does the name ‘Stereax’ come from?
A1: Well ‘Stereax’ is actually a slightly made-up word but it is derived from the Greek word for solid which is actually stereos and we have chosen that because of course our technology is a solid state battery so we thought that it was relevant enough to be our trademark.
Q2: Now, Franco Gonzalez, the IDTechEx analyst talks about the urgent need of combining energy harvesting and battery technology, why is this so important?
A2: It’s important because the key to powering sensors for the Internet of Things is making sure that you have a sustainable and easily-installed energy source and if you take one of Ilika’s rechargeable solid state batteries, they’re actually perfectly designed to combine with an energy harvester like photovoltaic panels, a vibration harvester or maybe a thermal electric device and provides perpetual energy to the sensor that you are powering.
Q3: Why can’t standard lithium ion batteries be used for the Internet of Things applications?
A3: The challenge with standard lithium ion batteries is that they have leakage currents which mean that they don’t hold their charge efficiently enough to be able to combine them effectively with a lot of these relatively small energy harvesters. So for instance, if you take a small photovoltaic panel it might only be producing milliamps or even microamps of current and you need to be able to capture that effectively in your battery so you need a battery that will register these currents and be able to store them effectively. Solid state batteries are very useful for that because they have a leakage current that’s approximately a tenth of what you might find in a normal lithium ion battery so it means that they store every scrap of current that your energy harvester provides.
Q4: Charlene Marini, VP at ARM, has been quoted in today’s news release, does Ilika have a relationship with ARM?
A4: Well we have an informal relationship with ARM in that both companies are very much interested in IoT applications, ARM obviously from the processor prospective but Ilika from the prospective of being able to harvest and store energy to drive sensors and microprocessors. So we have complementary technologies which when combined provide beacons and other devices which are particularly useful for the sector.
Q5: What product then do you think is next on the Ilika plc roadmap?
A5: Well, we have three strands to our roadmap going forward, the next product is actually on the strand that is to do with increasing the capacity of the batteries that we make, this is codenamed Beagle. This is all about increasing the capacity to enable a larger number of sensors and transmission protocol to be used so it’s a higher energy device with a larger capacity. The other two strands that we have going are miniaturisation, so actually with smaller batteries that might be used in applications that require a particularly small dimensions such as medical devices, and the other strand is high performance environments, so higher temperatures and conditions where you might need a more robust battery in order to give you sustained energy.