Startup Group1 is seeking to commercialise cathode materials for potassium-ion batters, a world first, while Northvolt is seeking to build batteries using a tree-derived carbon material lignin. 

Austin, US-based Group1 said its Potassium Prussian White (KPW) cathode materials result in quick-charging, high-efficiency and safer potassium-ion batteries, and that these can be a sustainable and critical alternative to lithium-ion batteries. 

Founded last year, it is led by its three co-founders, CEO Alexander Girau, chief science officer Dr. Yakov Kutsovsky and chief product officer Dr. Leigang Xue, who invented Group1’s proprietary KPW technology as a post-doc researcher in the lab of John B. Goodenough, the inventor of the lithium-ion battery.  

“As our transition away from fossil fuels accelerates, the demand for lithium-ion batteries is spiking quickly, and our lithium supplies will soon be incapable of meeting that demand. Group1 and potassium-ion batteries can provide a viable alternative to bridge this supply gap,” said CEO of Group1 Alexander Girau 

Max Reid, research analyst in Wood Mackenzie’s Battery & Raw Materials Service segment, described potassium-ion battery technology as ‘promising but still immature’. 

“The Prussian White cathode also uses much more abundant materials, potassium, manganese and iron are the main constituents – more suitable than nickel, cobalt and lithium which have seen surge prices over the last year,” Reid added. 

Group1 said that the potassium used in its technology is 1000 times more abundant than lithium and 20 times more affordable, although the latter claim may depend heavily on recent price spikes. It also claims its battery has a better safety profile than lithium-ion and faster, more efficient charging, and can easily be integrated into existing graphite anode materials, electrolytes, cell design, and manufacturing for li-ion.