Established in 2015, Alsym Energy’s goal is ambitious: to bridge the gap between low-performance and/or high-cost batteries for sectors that are struggling with renewable energy transition for carbon neutrality. With a strong focus on battery research and development, Alsym Energy’s technological innovations are helping to drive positive change and ensure that the energy transition leaves no one behind.
It’s very important for us to understand how the crystal structure of the materials in the electrodes are evolving as they’re cycling”
As Daniel Evans, Research Scientist and R&D Group Leader at Alsym Energy, says, “There are many markets that demand electrification, but they cannot accept the risk of lithium-ion batteries – or the high cost that’s occurring with lithium-ion batteries, and that’s continuing to increase.” But as society shifts toward more sustainable ways of working and living, the energy transition is no longer optional.
Enter Alsym Energy - originally founded with the aim of developing a non-toxic alternative to lead-acid batteries, the company has a track record of innovative problem-solving in the energy storage segment. Having begun with the challenge of a single product, the company moved on to tackling the practical obstacles to electrification that affect their whole market – and they started from scratch by reimagining their materials used in making battery electrodes.
Predicting performance when the stakes are high
But working with novel materials comes with challenges of its own – for example, how to measure and predict performance.
“With any battery technology, it’s very important for us to understand how the crystal structure of the materials in the electrodes are evolving as they’re cycling,” says Dr. Rahul Mukherjee, Alsym Energy Co-Founder and Director of R&D. Changes in crystalline structures can indicate a battery’s performance over time, and flag up potential safety issues before they occur – which is crucial, given the company’s aim of electrifying sectors that are especially sensitive to safety.
The Empyrean X-ray diffraction (XRD) platform is perfect for this application, as it offers a non-destructive way to ‘see’ inside materials in operando and in non-ambient environments. After seeing first-hand in our demonstrations what the Empyrean can do, in 2023, Alsym Energy decided to partner with us and add one to their laboratory. In their words, “Our experience with Malvern Panalytical instrument as well as support has been fantastic!”
In-depth insight with the powerful Empyrean
The advanced in operando XRD on the Empyrean platform reveals the microstructural stability of electrode materials throughout charge-discharge cycles, which enables researchers at Alsym Energy to track their materials’ performance, make changes where necessary, and optimize, for improved stability. Essential in any R&D process, these parameters are especially key for Alsym Energy – and other battery researchers.
As Dr. Mukherjee explains, “If something is happening over 500, 1000, or even 5000 cycles, we want to be able to track it before it’s a failure mode – so we don’t spend all that time waiting for the failure event to happen.” Under operating conditions, batteries can go through thousands of charge cycles over years of use. Problems may not be noticeable immediately, so relying on a trial-and-error approach wastes time and resources that can be easily saved by materials analysis.
The Empyrean has saved Alsym Energy plenty of time and resources – and their experience was made “phenomenal” (thank you, Dr. Mukherjee!) not only by the instrument, but also by the detailed training and support that came with it. We want all our customers to get the most out of their instruments and use them to their maximum potential.
True partnership means support
“Malvern Panalytical set us up with multiple training sessions, one of which was with a renowned research scientist,” says Daniel Evans. “We got fantastic information, a three-day course, on-site training with the instrument to set it up in the best possible way… The training we received was top-end, and we’ve hit the ground right after it. We’re analyzing our battery materials and cells with great ease!”
"We feel we can rely on them if anything goes wrong, and they’ll be there to help"
For us, that’s the mark of a success story. Our goal is to truly support our customers in their work, long after their instrument arrives in the lab until they can utilize the instrument to its full potential. This means taking a different approach, as Alsym Energy noticed. “What really stood out with Malvern Panalytical is that they treated us more like a collaborator or a partner than a customer,” continues Daniel. “It was just a great relationship, right off the bat! They’re still providing training, support, and encouragement – we feel we can rely on them if anything goes wrong, and they’ll be there to help.”
“Our experience has been phenomenal, in the way they have supported us and helped us use the machine to the best of its capabilities,” agrees Dr. Mukherjee. “The support has been excellent!”
“Malvern Panalytical is playing a role in helping us to electrify segments that are currently experiencing problems with lithium-ion batteries,” concludes Daniel. We’re proud to be helping – and we look forward to continuing our support for Alsym Energy and all our partners in the battery sector as we work together for a more sustainable future.
Learn more about the Empyrean XRD range and download a brochure here.
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