Sila Nanotechnologies raises $590M to fund battery materials factory – TechCrunch

Silicon Valley’s battery-making company Silla Nanotechnology has spent years developing technology designed to pack more energy into a cell at a lower cost – an end game that has led to it being powered by Ampirex Technology Ltd. as well as automaker BMW Has helped to partner with. Daimler.

Now, the sila Nano, flushed with a new injection of capital that has raised its valuation to $ 3.3 billion, is ready to take its technology to the public.

The company, founded nearly a decade ago, said on Tuesday that T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc. 8VC of existing investors has raised $ 590 million in a Series F funding round with significant participation by funds and accounts advised by Bessemi Venture. Partners, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Sutter Hill Ventures also participated in the round.

Silla Nano plans to use the funds to employ another 100 people this year and is able to start building a factory in North America capable of producing 100-gigawatt-hour silicon-based anode material , Which is used in batteries for the smartphone and automotive industries. Although the company has not revealed the location of the factory, it has a timeline. Silla Nano said it plans to begin production at the factory in 2024. The material produced at the plant will be in electric vehicles by 2025.

“It took eight years and 35,000 iterations to create the new battery chemistry, but it was just one step,” said Sila Nano CEO and co-founder Jean Bardishvsky in a statement. “For any new technology to make an impact in the real world, it has to scale, costing billions of dollars. We know from our experience building our production lines in Alameda that investing in our next plant today will put us on track to power cars and hundreds of millions of consumer devices by 2025. “

Technique

Lithium ion batteries have two electrodes. One side is anode (negative) and the other side is a cathode (positive). Typically, an electrolyte sits in the middle and acts as a courier, moving ions between electrodes during charging and discharging. Graphite is commonly used as an anode in commercial lithium ion batteries.

Silla Nano has developed a silicon-based anode that replaces graphite in lithium ion batteries. The important detail is that the material was designed to replace graphite without the need to replace the battery manufacturing process or equipment.

The sila nano has been focused on the silicon anode because the material can store too much lithium ions. Using a material that allows you to pack in more lithium ions would theoretically allow you to increase the energy density – or the amount of energy that can be stored in its battery – of the cell. Upshot will be a cheap battery Which has more energy at one place.

chance

It is a compelling product for automakers attempting to bring more electric vehicles to market. Nearly every global automaker has announced plans or is already producing a new batch of all-electric and plug-in electric vehicles, including Ford, GM, Daimler, BMW, Hyundai and Kia. Tesla continues to accelerate production of its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles, with a string of newcomers like Rivian ready to bring their EVs to market.

In short: the demand for batteries is increasing; And automakers are looking for next-generation technology that will give them a competitive edge.

Battery production in 2010 was around 20 GWh per year. Silla Nano expects it to be 2,000 GWh per year by 2030 and 30,000 GWh per year by 2050.

Silla Nano began building the first production lines in 2018 for its battery materials. This first line is capable of producing materials to supply the equivalent of 50 MW of lithium-ion batteries.