Battery Tech Startup Sila Nano Secures $45 Million, Now Has 3 Former Tesla EmployeesDecember 4, 2019
Published on December 4th, 2019 |
by Jake Richardson
December 4th, 2019 by Jake Richardson
Sila Nanotechnologies, based in Alameda, CA, has secured a new $45 million round of funding from the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. Daimler AG led a $170 million funding round earlier this year. The company says its silicon-based materials can increase battery energy density by 20% and potentially up to 40%. Three former Tesla employees are executives at Sila, Kurt Kelty (joined recently), Alex Jacobs, and co-founder and CEO Gene Berdichevsky. They all worked on battery technology at Tesla. Berdichevsky answered some questions for CleanTechnica about Sila’s work.
You mentioned in a MIT Technology Review video that your company could have a massive impact in the future. In what areas of technology/products do you foresee this happening?
The battery material we’ve developed will directly impact consumer electronics, electric vehicles, and eventually grid storage. Much of what’s possible in innovation, design and overall advancements for consumer electronics and electric vehicles is reliant on the capabilities of battery chemistry. Better battery chemistry equates to better performance: range, acceleration, cost, charge time, for cars; and enhanced features and size in electronic devices – essentially all of what consumers care about come down to chemistry. Lithium-ion is currently the most efficient battery technology available, but the materials used have largely remained unchanged, which has led to in the last five years delivering only 1-2% improvements at a time when new features and capabilities require more battery power to run. We are seeing that existing technology is unable to keep up with consumer demand.
Our ultimate goal is to bring higher battery performance, faster charging and longer range – traits critically important to electric vehicles and future innovation overall.
What do your battery materials improve upon or replace, and what are its advantages?
Lithium-ion is currently the most efficient battery technology available, but the materials used in lithium-ion are the same as when Sony first introduced it commercially almost three decades ago. Scientists and engineers have worked hard to perfect the chemistry’s utilization (increasing energy density by a factor of 3 since 1991 to about 2010), but we’re now hitting the theoretical limits of the chemistry. Improvements in lithium-ion technology has become increasingly minimal, and the incremental changes in the last five years have delivered only 1-2% improvements every few years.
Sila Nanotechnologies was founded in 2011, and after 35,000 iterations, our team has developed a silicon-based composite that replaces the…