Silicon battery startup raises $45m for US production

Silicon battery startup raises $45m for US production

Business news |
By Nick Flaherty

Enovix has raised $45m to complete a factory in Fremont, California to build its lithium-ion silicon battery for portable electronics and electric vehicles.

The company is backed by former Cypress Semiconductor founder TJ Rodgers, with the new funds coming from customers and a ‘major technology company’. The deal brings the total investment to over $200m with backing from Intel, Qualcomm and Cypress. It has been awarded over 70 patents and has over 40 applications pending. 

Many companies around the world such as Nexeon, Aprius, Advano and Sila Nano are working on silicon battery technology, which replaces the anode in a standard lithium ion cell with a silicon material.

Enovix is also working with international car makers for silicon battery technology in electric vehicles (EV). Initial R&D indicates that cells can achieve gravimetric energy density greater than 340 Wh/kg at a cost equivalent to or below present industry forecasts when it ships in five years.

“The composition of this round is a testament to the performance we’ve achieved and progress we’ve demonstrated towards production and commercialization of our silicon-based lithium-ion battery,” said Harrold Rust, Enovix co-founder and CEO. “Anchoring the round is a $25m strategic investment from a leading California technology company. Present investors have added $10m, and customers have contracted $10m to develop batteries for specific products and to reserve production capacity,” he said.

Enovix will use the bulk of the funds to complete its high-volume battery factory with volume production by the end of the year. Around 75 per cent of the equipment and processes are identical to standard pouch lithium-ion battery manufacturing.

However Enovix has developed proprietary electrode laser patterning and high-speed stacking tools that replace the standard electrode winding process to increase production line capacity by 30 per cent.

“We initially attracted customers when we sampled cells about a year ago with energy density over 900 Wh/l and full-depth of discharge cycle life over 500,” said Rust. “As customers and investors visited our production site and saw our proprietary electrode laser patterning and high-speed stacking tools in action, their confidence in our production capability was sufficient to generate revenue and secure additional funding.”

Enovix expects to reach a run-rate of 8 million units per year as it ramps in 2021 and 2022. It has signed agreements with two additional portable electronics companies, bringing the total to four. The deals could be worth $250m a year once in full production says Rust.

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