A week or so ago, we were fortunate enough to visit ProLogium, one of the most innovative companies currently in the field of battery manufacturing. Based just outside Taipei, Taiwan, Prologium have been in existence since 2006, having spent the last 7 years in deep R&D mode, developing, testing and finalizing a radically new kind battery that marries high density output with a flexible ultra thin form like nothing you have seen before.
ProLogium: Company Overview
The Taiwanese company was founded by CEO Vincent Yang in October of 2006, a very dynamic and ambitious 40 year old who you could also describe as company President, Head of Sales and R&D Chief and more. Vincent is without doubt the heart and soul of a company that mirrors his own driving personal ambition, creating a product that is radically different from any other on the market.
Indeed Yang heads the research and development team at ProLogium, personally developing the early prototype designs that would later be manufactured at the company’s first mass production facility which opened its doors in the Zhong Li district of Taiwan in August of last year. The Jung Li plants represents a crucial point in the company’s development. Backed by VC money, it is essentially the fruit of 7 years hard work.
ProLogium are in fact an excellent example of what a startup looks like in Taiwan. While Silicon Valley is the place to be if you are a software startup company, Prologium raised enough financial backing to go ahead and build a factory. ProLogium are proof to me that Taiwan’s strength remains in its hardware manufacturing, rivaling anywhere else in terms of sheer scale. Taiwan has the technical knowledge, the money and the ambition.
Since opening the first manufacturing plant about ten months ago, the company has seen its ranks swell to around 163 employees from the original 93, expanding its sales and marketing base as well as manufacturing expertise with only 40% of its employees now involved with core R&D. Before opening its first manufacturing plant, an incredible 70% of the head count was involved with R&D alone.
Clearly Vincent Yang and his investors were very happy to see the first mass production facility open its doors after more than 7 long years of technical development. Indeed, it seems that the long patient attitude is a very useful thing to have in an industry where life cycle testing alone takes 6 months! This is a ‘long tail’ game if ever there was one!
FLCB Technology – Next Generation Mobile Energy
The product in question is currently known as an FLCB, or FPC (Flexible Printed Circuit) Lithium-Ceramic Battery. FLCB technology is very different from today’s Litium Polymer batteries that we see in almost every type of device including smartphones and tablets. FLCB breaks the mold in terms of battery appearance, production technique and manufacturing technologies with ProLogium applying for several patents worldwide.
As we see more of today’s technology focused on the digital wearable device space so also do we see ProLogium come in to their own as their exclusive FLCB technology is able to achieve things that were not possible previously with solid lithium batteries. As well as being lighter and much more flexible, FLCB-based batteries are also intrinsically safer. FLCB batteries do not catch fire, start to smoke or leak under almost any circumstances including physical, thermal or electrical impact. This is really good news for wearables which by their very nature will be close to the body.
Check out this video showing us attempt to destroy a ProLogium flexible battery with a pair of scissors:
Safe, Strong and as Big as You Want
In fact the company argues quite convincingly that their FLCB technology opening up several new applications that include today’s wearable technology in clothes, watches, jewelry, headsets and more. The FLCB batteries can be injection inserted or molded in manufacturing processes that can reach temperatures of up to 2600 Celsius. They also don’t suffer from ‘Salting Out’ issues that plague electrolytic solutions and they can withstand cutting, piercing and even burning.
It’s also important to note that in terms of battery life, ProLogium claim their FLCB technology also provides exceptional energy density, with anywhere up to double that of standard lithium polymer batteries today, so there is no performance hit in terms of mAh figures with FLCBs.
Surely the most exciting aspect however, is the fact that an FLCB will continue to function after physical impact or even outright mutilation. Watch the video below, shot at our visit to the company where we were allowed to cut up an example FLCB with a pair of scissors. We kept cutting until there was actually not a great deal of battery left, yet the led attached to the battery continued to draw power. We were also invited to skewer the battery with a sharp object – which still continued to supply power to the connect LED lights.
Being based on a printed circuit board, these FLCB batteries can also carry the signal and be joined to together as integral components in the device itself. This means that essentially the battery can be integrated in to the design, becoming part of the device itself, not a single and unwanted appendage that provides power.
Did I mention that FLCB batteries are also incredibly flexible? The samples we were shown could be twisted and bent in to practically any shape. There are obviously myriad possibilities for wearable devices that could include shoes, bags, head gear – once you have held the battery in your hands, it’s clear to see why ProLogium are starting to see interest from some major manufacturers, with a wealth of possibilities in the Wearables and Internet of Things space.
In fact, we were also shown some early device case products for the Samsung Galaxy Note series and the HTC products that incorporated a flat and flexible FLCB battery inside the cover of the case, adding a substantial 1000mAh of additional power to devices. But it’s not just smartphones which can benefit from this new battery tech, notebook PCs can integrate FLCBs in their chassis, displays while in-vehicle devices and systems can incorporate batteries basically anywhere within the vehicle, without inducing safety concerns.
ProLogium Image Gallery
In the future we can also envision FLCBs playing a part in the digital home, because FLCB manufacturing is very scalable. This means the technology will have the ability to produce very large batteries that replace traditional solid and bulky lithium polymer offerings. Imagine a digital home which has back up power provided by large capacity FLCBs installed within the walls of your home. Again, this is now entirely possible due to the nature of FLCBs being extremely flexible, safe and scalable – the possibilities are endless.
Despite being flexible, heat resistant and damn near indestructible, ProLogium FLCB batteries actually manage to provide comparable or better power delivery compared to today’s solid lithium polymer equivalents. Indeed there seem to be few drawbacks to the technology which is being refined and improved with each generation. ProLogium plan to roll out improved FLCB technology for later this year, with even better characteristics.
ProLogium are certainly a company to watch in the next year or two. Catch them at Computex 2014, where they might just let you cut up some of their batteries.