Founded by a former Tesla engineer, startup Sila Nanotechnologies has announced plans to mass-produce next-generation battery materials in the United States. They reduce costs, increase range with the same battery size and reduce the industry’s dependence on China.
According to Sila CEO Gene Berdichevsky, the company is investing hundreds of millions of dollars in a new plant in Washington state that is scheduled to open in 2024. Since Tesla’s founding in 2003, the price of batteries for electric vehicles has stabilized, rather than as experts expected since Tesla’s founding in 2003 – new materials are bringing the price down for consumers, he said. The carmaker Daimler AG holds a minority stake in Sila, and the startup also cooperates with BMW. Last year the company raised $590 million, the capitalization amounted to $3.3 billion.
Berdichevsky said the company’s new plant will produce silicon-based anodes that store 20% more energy than graphite anodes, 70% of which are made in China. This is all the more important for the United States as the Biden administration intends to reduce the country’s reliance on supplies of batteries from the Middle Kingdom. Graphite is listed as a critical mineral in the US, and silicon is a fairly affordable material.
According to Sila’s boss, the plant plans to produce silicon anodes sufficient to provide batteries with a total capacity of 10 GWh – enough to make batteries for 100,000 electric vehicles. The main goal for the future is to increase the production capacity for the manufacture of anodes, which will be enough for 2 million electric vehicles per year.
Test production is underway at the headquarters in Alameda, California. Theoretically, components for 1000 cars can be produced here every year. Instead, the production of materials for use in smartwatch batteries has been organized so far. Sila’s goal is to scale production.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced plans to use silicon anodes in new batteries at Battery Day in 2020, but it remains to be seen whether the well-known automaker will adopt this revolutionary technology. Tesla itself has not yet commented on journalists’ inquiries.