Wilton engineers are a focus of powerWilton Bulletin
Cadenza Innovation, an engineering company on River Road that specializes in battery inventions for license to lithium-ion battery pack manufacturers, has received its first patent for what it calls groundbreaking advancements in battery design.
Awarded to founder and CEO Dr. Christina Lampe-Onnerud and Chief Technology Officer Dr. Per Onnerud, the patent recognizes the company’s unique multi-core lithium-ion battery cell structure, referred to as a supercell.
The supercell is a cornerstone of the startup company’s intellectual property portfolio, and promises to substantially reduce production and manufacturing costs. The design also overcomes safety issues and improves energy density of lithium-ion batteries, said Lampe-Onnerud, who lives in Wilton.
The company has been in town four years.
“The lithium-ion technology is dominant for portable power; it can be used for all types of devices,” she said on her cell phone during an interview while she was on the road traveling for business. “We try to have more storage and battery capacity.”
Cadenza is not a manufacturing company, strictly an innovation company that licenses its technology to very large global players in the battery market. The new design could lead to more jobs in the battery field, even in the U.S., she said.
“We could find new manufacturing in the U.S. to be close to the end markets, as a result of that new technology,” he said. “We’re very fortunate to have a few large U.S. corporations show interest in this technology.”
Energy storage, already a multi-billion-dollar market, has never been in such high demand. Electric vehicles and the utility grid are fueling this global surge. And that’s driving the requirement for lower-cost, safer, higher-energy density lithium-ion batteries.
Cadenza is backed by more than $9 million in oversubscribed Series-A funding led by Golden Seeds, the world’s largest fund supporting female entrepreneurs. Licensing its technology to battery pack manufacturers, the company has also earned funding from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency — Energy (ARPA-E) program and the states of Connecticut, New York and Massachusetts.
Lampe-Onnerud is a 20-year battery industry veteran. She is a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer, has shared insights into energy storage and climate change at Davos and for numerous United Nations groups, is an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Hall of Fame winner and MIT Technology Review Young Innovator award recipient, and has earned multiple distinctions for her commitment to environmental sustainability.
Earlier in her career, she founded Boston-Power, which today is based in China.
She moved to Wilton from Boston.
“I think Wilton is a wonderful town, with kind people, and it’s very family oriented with great schools and a community that cares,” she said. “I wanted to support it with my company.”
Cadenza also has a laboratory facility in Bethel.
The demand for electrochemical power cells, specifically lithium-ion batteries, is rapidly increasing due to the tremendous growth of electric vehicles (EVs) and grid storage systems. Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) recently reported that “the EV revolution is going to hit the car market even harder and faster than BNEF predicted a year ago,” claiming “EV sales will surpass internal combustion engine sales by 2038.”
For EV and grid storage applications to achieve broad commercial adoption, a balance of low-cost manufacturing and high-energy density with safety included into the design is paramount, Lampe-Onnerud said in a press statement. Large cells allow for easier assembly by battery pack makers, but they require costly manufacturing methods. In contrast, small cells utilize well-established and cost-effective production methods and are safer, but are often unable to meet the power demands for many end-applications. These dynamics exacerbate shortages of lithium-ion batteries in a global market that already is unable to meet the demand of cost-effective and safe high-capacity batteries in volume production, according to the company.
Bridging these gaps to enable maximum flexibility for pack manufacturers, Cadenza Innovation’s supercell lithium-ion battery structure delivers the cost, safety and energy density advantages of both large and small cell formats.
“Current-generation small and large cell batteries each have significant limitations,” Lampe-Onnerud said. “Those shortcomings result in fires in consumer devices as well as a range of manufacturing challenges for companies building EVs.”
“Cadenza Innovation’s patented architecture and related first-to-market advancements are setting new standards for lithium-ion battery design and manufacturing,” she continued. “Allowing for assembly by pack manufacturers in whatever format they need to satisfy their specific energy, space and end-application requirements — in a manner akin to building blocks — our approach delivers an unparalleled combination of low cost, safety and energy density all within one platform. We are excited by what our unique battery architecture brings to the automotive and utility industries worldwide.”
The company gets its name from the musical word ‘cadenza,’ which refers to a technically brilliant, sometimes improvised, solo passage toward the close of a concerto.
“It’s a term when musicians get inspired,” she said. ”I thought it would be cool to have an innovation company to partner with global corporations and have a supportive invention environment culture with people who love creating harmony together.
That’s exactly the type of company we have.”