SciTech Europa spoke to Jenax Inc. about the challenges and solutions for energy storage applications involving J.Flex, an innovative, flexible, fast charging battery.
Battery usage has expanded from mobile phones and laptops to LED lamps, portable fans, toys, toothbrushes, and even automobiles. Now, the battery applications are expanding further as the Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, big data, mobile and cloud computing are introduced. People build systems to obtain, manage and utilise data to improve our lives. Objects become connected devices, and batteries are needed to provide the power.
When it is necessary to collect the data from human bodies or portable objects via wearables or connected devices, the rigid and thick batteries have challenges in developing user-friendly designs. In order to get sufficient amount of data, users have to feel comfortable having the device on their bodies during the required amount of time. This challenge calls for a new type of more advanced batteries. For example, the Japanese government has announced to change the paradigm of healthcare by 2035 via the campaign called Japan Vision: Healthcare 2035. The government plans to create an ecosystem consisted of predictive, personalised and participatory healthcare. Technologies to leverage for this vision are IoT, wearables, smart phones, smart homes, robots, etc. With that, it is inevitable to look for a new battery solution right for these devices. Like in Japan, the focus and demand on the design for flexibility and thinness have increased over the world.
In the European IoT and wearable markets, much research and development is undertaking in the areas of printed electronics, related sensors and energy storage to name just a few. Regarding energy storage, the global focus is on increasing the driving range and safety for electric vehicles, and Europe is particularly active here. Because of that, the developments for smaller applications are comparably less visible. There are, indeed, numerous on-going projects and developments that leverage new technologies, including miniaturising sizes of components, decreasing thickness via material diversification, and improving battery properties. If companies with much influence take the initiatives to drive innovative technologies, then it will be more efficient in stabilising the new technologies at a faster rate.
How does Jenax help to expand energy storage applications?
Jenax has been pioneering a new path with other players in the field of innovation and applications. As many device makers have experienced, batteries have been an obstacle in creating user-friendly and comfortable designs for wearables and other smart products. Jenax has developed flexible lithium-ion cell technology that can be a great solution for the IoT and wearable products. Lithium-ion batteries are the most widely adopted chemistry for energy storage, and Jenax’s battery – J.Flex – is an advanced version of lithium-ion batteries with flexibility, enhanced safety and fast charge capability. J.Flex is unlike conventional batteries and other thin film batteries because of the degree of flexibility it features. J.Flex can be bent, flexed and rolled to any direction.
Plus, our battery technology does not sacrifice performance for the flexibility: the flexible battery was tested by continuous 10,000 times of bending to 20mm in radius, and the capacity of the bent battery was the same as that of a non-bent battery. Also, J.Flex uses gel polymer electrolyte that provides protection against leakage when the battery is penetrated or cut, thereby minimising risk to users.
Jenax is continuously encouraging people to change the perspective on batteries. Batteries shouldn’t be considered as one of those components to purchase at the last phase just to make a device run. It is one of the core components that plays a big role in the final design of a device, and the device design or shape can affect consumers’ ultimate decision to choose the product.
We are listening to people with needs of a new approach in order to provide better solutions to consumers together. One of our projects involves four companies, where each company is contributing its expertise built over decades to create a completely new product. Our partners shared that the difference is made due to battery form – yes, batteries do make a difference in the product design. Jenax is helping product engineers and designers to integrate batteries in places that were not possible before. Energy storage applications are greatly widened now that product engineers and designers can use product spaces smarter with J.Flex.
What are the current challenges for energy storage in niche electrical devices/wearables?
One of the biggest challenges Jenax has seen since the launch of J.Flex has been the lack of markets’ readiness. The was mainly due to the fact that flexible batteries were such a new concept when we first introduced it. Jenax had to pave the way for people to understand what flexible batteries are and how they can be applied. We thus focused our efforts on increasing awareness, and we have been collaborating with diverse companies to solve their battery-related problems and to assist them in realising their new products.
We are excited to witness a definite increase in awareness when it comes to flexible batteries and applications. Demands and applications of companies have become specified over time. Many companies now have a better understanding, recognise the need of flexible batteries, and ready to implement this solution for their new or next generation products.
What would you say have been Jenax’s biggest achievements thus far?
In one word: disruption. Jenax has accomplished what was considered impossible and disrupted the battery industry by providing a new perspective on energy storage that was not available in the market.
Our battery technologies including the degree of flexibility and the gel polymer electrolyte are recognised worldwide. Jenax was awarded with Frost & Sullivan’s Best Practices Award in 2018, specifically the Asia Pacific Secondary Battery Technology Innovation Award. According to Frost & Sullivan, the Best Practices awards are given to companies that demonstrate excellence in demand generation, brand development, and competitive positioning. Additionally, we are privileged to be introduced last year in the Foreign Affairs magazine as a section of the Korean technology innovation. Most of all, we are thankful when our partnering companies express their amazement at and satisfaction of our technology. We will continue to disrupt industries by helping our partners to advance their products with our flexible battery.
We are also proud to say that we have been firmly rooted in this flexible energy storage market since our many years of development and introduction of J.Flex in 2015. We have seen other companies dropping flexible battery lines from their portfolios and new start-ups joining the market. In midst of this, Jenax has been stably building up our brand and trust with companies. As a result, we are building up our pilot line this year and are excited to be a trusted partner to help our clients create innovative products that would benefit the lifestyle of their users.
Looking to the future, where do you hope to see Jenax’s applications having the biggest impact?
For now, the rise of Internet of Things and Wearables. Flexible battery is an enabling technology for these markets. For the foreseeable future, one of specific applications we are interested in is a flexible phone on a wrist where a flexible battery and flexible display shine as the main components of the device. Generally, as flexible battery can be implemented to a diverse range of devices that need energy storage, it can be used for wearable and connected devices in medical, sports, fashion, military and other industries. The applications are limitless.
Are there any opportunities for European businesses to partner with Jenax?
Yes – we have strong experiences working on projects with European companies which have become well-impressed with our technology. Innovation and design are highly appreciated in Europe and always sought after. We enjoy collaborating with vision driven companies. We look forward to building more partnerships with European organisations from diverse industries to help advance the lifestyle of consumers with a combination of their expertise and ours.