New Charging Method Can Quadruple Battery Performance, Startup Claims

With its custom charge controller, startup Iontra says designers of products from consumer electronics to EVs can massively boost their battery's lifespans and charging speeds.

Sometimes it feels like every engineer and their dog is trying to develop a better battery. From novel chemistries to non-conventional structures, from alternative anodes to superior separators, no stone is being left unturned in the quest for the next battery breakthrough.

And then there’s Denver, Colorado-based startup Iontra, that’s not so much flipping stones as polishing the ones we’ve already collected.

“We have really taken a different approach than anybody else in the industry,” Jeff Granato, CEO of Iontra, told

That approach? Revamp how today’s batteries are charged to squeeze out every last bit of juice. Granato says Iontra’s proprietary charging technology leads to longer lifespans, faster charging times, improved safety and higher temperature ranges—and all without swapping a single cell. With a custom charge controller and some minor circuitry changes, Iontra claims designers of products from consumer electronics to electric vehicles (EVs) can potentially quadruple their existing battery’s performance.

The pernicious problem of plating

Even the best batteries die eventually. Lithium-ion batteries, the most popular type today, deteriorate over time in several ways. One of the most impactful is a process called plating, in which lithium builds up on the anode. This reduces the capacity of the battery and even compromises its safety, as plating can lead to dendrites—needle-like formations that could puncture the battery separator and cause a dangerous short circuit.

The exact causes of lithium plating are not fully understood but we do know that the problem is exacerbated by certain factors. Fast charging is bad and so is charging at low temperatures: bad news for Canadians hastily trying to top up their Teslas in December.

One way to combat plating is by using materials or structures that might ease the problem. That’s a matter of research, so it doesn’t impact the batteries we’re using today. Another approach is to change how you charge the battery, adjusting parameters like current and voltage in such a way that minimizes plating. That’s what Iontra is up to.

“Every battery-powered product and application uses a charge controller, and we’ve developed a next-generation algorithm that keeps components healthier than conventional charging methods,” Granato says.

Iontra says its proprietary charging technology prevents the plating and dendrites that occur during conventional charging. (Image: Iontra.)

Iontra says its proprietary charging technology prevents the plating and dendrites that occur during conventional charging. (Image: Iontra.)

Iontra’s algorithm works by continuously analyzing the state of the battery and adjusting the charging current accordingly—1,000 times per second, according to the company’s website. In this way, Granato says, Iontra users can safely charge their batteries under any circumstances and prevent plating damage before it occurs. That reduces the risk of potentially dangerous battery failure and also enables colder charging. Iontra says its technique works at temperatures as low as minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit).

Unlocking the battery performance budget

Safer batteries and colder charging temperatures are significant benefits of Iontra’s approach, but those aren’t the only advantages Granato touts. The real headline for product designers is the potential to make batteries last longer and charge faster. And not just a little longer and a little faster, either.

“We’re able to deliver somewhere between two to four times faster charging, and we’re able to deliver two to four times longer life,” Granato says.

The caveat is that they’re not necessarily at the same time. Iontra’s approach to charging unlocks what Granato calls a “performance budget” for the battery. Product designers work with Iontra to tweak the algorithm to attain faster charging, a longer battery lifespan or a balance of both, depending on design objectives and battery cells.

If that sounds too good to be true, Iontra says it can back up its bold claims with approximately three million cycling hours of in-house battery tests. The company also says its tech has been validated by four independent research labs including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Novonix, UL Solutions and the University of Michigan.

The NREL test report, which Iontra shared with, compared Iontra’s charging protocol against a constant current/constant voltage (CC/CV) charging protocol using commercially available 2.5Ah 18650 cells. NREL concluded that Iontra’s protocol “provides 5x – 6x the lifetime energy while maintaining the same charge power” as the cells charged with CC/CV. Moreover, while the latter cells had “a significant amount of lithium plating” when NREL tore them down after testing, the Iontra-charged cells showed only “a small amount,” according to the report.

The capacity fade over time for cells charged with a CC/CV protocol (yellow) compared to cells charged with Iontra’s protocol (blue). The tests were conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). (Image: NREL.)

The capacity fade over time for cells charged with a CC/CV protocol (yellow) compared to cells charged with Iontra’s protocol (blue). The tests were conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). (Image: NREL.)

Granato says Iontra’s algorithm is viable for a variety of battery chemistries and geometries. So far the company has tested pouch and cylindrical cells, along with common lithium-ion chemistries including NMC (nickel manganese cobalt) and LFP (lithium iron phosphate). They’re also testing (or planning to test) up-and-coming batteries like sodium-ion and zinc-ion. Whatever battery tech ends up dominant, Granato is confident his company will be able to boost it.

“There’s a lot of anticipation over next generation materials and cell designs,” Granato says. “Our expectation is that, regardless of what system winds up coming on the market with some native improvements relative to lithium-ion, we’ll be able to improve those cells’ performance as well.”

Given the substantial battery benefits boasted by Iontra, designers might assume the startup’s charging tech requires substantial design changes. But as Granato describes it, it could hardly be easier to add Iontra charging to your own product.

Integrating Iontra into product design

Iontra’s charging technology requires two main design changes: swapping in Iontra’s microcontroller, which implements the charging algorithm; and adjusting a few common components like inductors, capacitors and transistors. Granato refers to these as “popcorn component changes” and says the system changes required to deliver an Iontra charge are all minor.

The microcontroller is Iontra’s main focus as it seeks to commercialize its charging tech. The company is developing a custom MCU for the consumer electronics market, one that will be smaller than the off-the-shelf MCUs that Iontra currently uses. Iontra’s custom MCU will function as both the charge controller and fuel gauge, meaning it will keep track of the battery’s state of charge (SoC) and state of health (SoH).

“We have very accurate fuel gauge capabilities that are state-of-the-art, head and shoulders above the accuracy of the fuel gauges on the market today,” Granato says. He adds that many companies currently use separate charge control and fuel gauge chips, so Iontra’s MCU has the extra benefit of consolidating the two and slimming the bill of materials. It will also be able to host battery management system (BMS) software if product designers so choose.

Iontra’s microcontroller will be available in the fourth quarter of 2025, according to Granato. “In the meantime, we’re making development kits available for customers to use as reference designs to start to build their Iontra-enabled system architecture and do the testing and everything in anticipation,” he says.

Granato encourages interested engineers to get in touch. Iontra will evaluate your batteries at its Denver test facility to determine how its charging technology could improve their performance.

“Send us your cells,” Granato says. “We’ll do that initial characterization on us.”

EVs and other environmental benefits

Though Iontra is initially focusing its efforts on consumer electronics, the startup also has its sights set on the higher-power EV market. Granato says Iontra’s charging algorithm is mature and will work for battery cells of any size, and that the company has already started developing an EV platform.

In July, Iontra closed a $67 million Series B funding round with $29 million from energy investors including Volta Energy Technologies and Riverstone. Besides the technological benefits, these investors pointed out another reason to be excited by Iontra’s charging tech:

“The economic and environmental math is simple,” John Staudinger, managing director of Riverstone, said in an Iontra press release. “Iontra not only improves your product but removes the need for vast amounts of new battery materials.”

The math may seem simple, but when it comes to big battery breakthroughs, one can never see all the variables at once. For now, Iontra’s charging technology equals an exciting possibility for engineers (and their dogs).

Written by

Michael Alba

Michael is a senior editor at He covers computer hardware, design software, electronics, and more. Michael holds a degree in Engineering Physics from the University of Alberta.