Liquid-to-solid battery electrolyte technology exclusively licensed to Safire – ORNL

Liquid to solid battery electrolyte technology exclusively licensed to Safire – ORNL.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory has exclusively licensed battery electrolyte technology to Safire Technology Group. A collection of five patented technologies is a drop-in additive specially designed for lithium-ion batteries, which prevents the effects of explosion and fire.

Safire, a battery technology startup formerly known as BTRY, plans to open a factory in East Tennessee as part of its plans to commercialize liquid-solid battery technology.

battery work

Susan Hubbard, ORNL Technology Deputy Representative said:

“Improving battery technology is critical to building a clean energy future for our nation.

“This technology has implications for multiple industries, ultimately making battery systems safer, more efficient, and more stable.”

Batteries can catch fire or explode when subjected to impact, such as in a car accident, and cause property damage, serious injury or death, which is a major challenge for the adoption of battery technology in electric vehicles and aircraft such as unmanned aerial vehicles.

ORNL’s Safe Shock Resistant Electrolyte, or SAFIRE Technology, eliminates this risk with a new electrolyte formulation that changes the electrolyte from a liquid to a solid when subjected to a shock.

In a lithium-ion battery, a thin piece of plastic separates the two electrodes. If the battery is damaged and the plastic layer fails, the electrodes could touch and cause the battery’s liquid electrolyte to catch fire. In SAFIRE, the electrolyte freezes under impact, preventing contact between the electrodes.

This technology can significantly reduce the weight of the vehicle and increase the range, because the heavy shield around the battery is no longer required.

john lee The co-founder and CEO of Safire said:

SAFIRE will change the automotive industry, especially as we move to electric vehicles.

“This additive is easily incorporated into existing battery manufacturing processes, offering users a safe alternative to traditional battery protection that is lighter and more effective, improving performance and reducing total cost of ownership.”

In defense applications, the technology provides projectile and ballistic protection while reducing the weight of defense systems and equipment.

Lee and Mike Grubbs, Safire’s other co-founder, are also working with government agencies and industry to develop technology for electric vertical take-off and landing, or eVTOL, aircraft, e-bikes and other lithium-ion powered devices.

Mike Grubbs Said ORNL’s 15 Licensing Events at an event in November:

This announcement further strengthens our longstanding partnership with ORNL and allows us to begin commercial testing.

“We are also exploring new partnerships and identifying prototyping opportunities with automotive, e-bike and eVTOL manufacturers.”

ORNL’s Gabriel Veith, the inventor of SAFIRE, has been developing and improving battery technology since 2014. Veith has received two R&D 100 Awards, one of which is SAFIRE. The development team also included ORNL colleagues Beth Armstrong, Hsin Wang, Sergiy Kalnaus, Katie Browning, and Kevin Cooley.

Gabriel Weiss Say:

The best part of working at ORNL is the team environment.

“The team had a rheologist, a ceramist, an electrochemist, mechanical experts, materials testers — all of these combined to make the technology work,” Veith said.

“It’s not a one-person job – working as a team gives us this truly unique opportunity. Having a diversity of people, experiences and backgrounds really helps shape ideas.”

SAFIRE was initially funded by the ORNL Seed Funding Program, and the project continues under DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Department of Energy. Commercialization efforts were supported by the Lab’s Technology Innovation Program as well as FedTech’s Startup Studio, a venture capital firm program dedicated to advancing deep technologies.

Safire plans to start developing prototypes with strategic partners. Parties interested in testing the technology or partnering with Safire should email

UT-Battelle manages ORNL for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States. The Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, visit

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Liquid-to-solid battery electrolyte technology exclusively licensed to Safire, November 18, 2022

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