To push U.S. battery development, the Department of Energy awarded $250 million in cost-sharing grants to three companies working to scale silicon technology for faster charging and more energy storage of EV batteries.
They include Amprius Technologies Inc., Group14 Technologies Inc. and Sila Nanotechnologies, all focused on silicon-based battery technology.
The DOE funding is part of the $1 trillion Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in November 2021 and is administered by the agency’s Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains.
Altogether, it awarded $2.8 billion in mid-October to 20 companies working on “new, retrofitted, and expanded commercial scale domestic facilities to produce battery materials, processing and battery recycling and manufacturing demonstration,” the DOE said.
Cost sharing means the companies receiving the grant are required to contribute to the cost of their projects. All are devoting resources at least equal to and in most cases more than the federal funding.
Group14 Technologies of Woodenville, Wash., and Sila Nanotechnologies of Alameda, Calif., each received $100 million.
Group14’s silicon-carbon composite technology is designed to replace graphite in lithium ion batteries to reduce cost. Group14 will use the federal funds to build two commercial manufacturing modules capable of producing 2,000 tons per year of its battery material, enough for 100,000 vehicles. The company also plans to hire 500 employees to construct and operate a new manufacturing facility in Moses Lake, Wash.
“Achieving President Biden’s ambitious decarbonization goals all comes down to resilient battery supply chains anchored on U.S. soil to ensure our energy independence,” Group14 CEO and cofounder Rick Luebbe said in a statement.
Group14 raised $400 million in funding led by Porsche. Porsche subsidiary Cellforce Group will be one of Group14’s customers.
Sila Nanotechnologies will use its award to build a 600,000-square-foot factory, also in Moses Lake, Wash., that will produce lithium ion anode materials. Sila plans to hire up to 300 people for the facility and will work with local high schools, vocational programs and community colleges to recruit and train personnel.
The factory is expected to begin production of Sila’s proprietary silicon anode material in 2024. When it reaches full capacity, the factory will produce enough materials to power 200,000 EVs, which as of now, would make it the largest silicon anode production facility in the world, Sila said.
“Offering federal resources to advance domestic production of proven technologies will help the U.S. assert ourselves as leaders in the global EV market,” CEO Gene Berdichevsky said in a statement.
Mercedes-Benz will be the first commercial customer using material from the facility. The company will use anode materials from Sila to power its EVs, starting with the G-Class series that will be available by 2025.