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Speed Is the Name of the Game at this EV Battery Tech Firm

Anyone who has ever pulled into a gas station knows you can fill an empty tank in just a few minutes and then drive hundreds of miles before filling up again. That’s not exactly the case with electric vehicles. The vast majority of EV batteries might take anywhere from 30 minutes to 48 hours to charge up, depending on a bunch of different variables. After that, you can typically expect to drive anywhere from 150 to 300 miles on a single charge.

Speeding up the process of charging EVs and electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft has become a high priority in the electric vehicle industry. This has primarily taken the form of fast-charging EVs, where numerous companies are bringing cutting-edge technologies to market.

Photo Courtesy Ionblox  

One of them is  Ionblox, a Fremont, California-based startup whose battery technologies aim to combine fast charging, high energy, high power, and long life at a low cost.

The company uses a proprietary silicon anode in the battery instead of commonly used anode materials such as graphite. 

Ionbox claims that its pre-lithiated silicon oxide anode “is essential for high-performance applications requiring both high energy and power for fossil-free mobility.” The company says its batteries achieve up to 50% higher energy density and five times more power than anode batteries.

From a practical standpoint, the technology lets users rapid-charge 80% of the entire battery in 10 minutes. This means that for a 300-mile range vehicle, you can charge 240 miles in nearly the time it takes to fill up a gas tank. 

Using silicon in the anode has several benefits over graphite, Electrek reported. Silicon has a higher capacity for lithium storage, which increases the battery’s energy density and allows more energy to be stored in a smaller size. The result is a lighter, more compact battery. Pre-lithiated silicon anodes are also more stable during charging and discharging, reducing the risk of lithium metal buildup and extending the battery’s life.

Photo Courtesy Ionblox  

On the downside, pre-lithiated silicon anodes typically have lower conductivity than graphite. They also tend to undergo mechanical degradation during repeated charge and discharge cycles, which can reduce the overall efficiency and performance of the battery.

Those issues aside, Ionblox’s batteries are well respected enough in the industry that the company is working with General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler to achieve a recharge time that “can finally last the same amount of time as a gas fill-up,” according to its website. 

“We know fossil-free mobility depends on high-performance batteries,” Inblox CEO Sujeet Kumar said. “At Ionblox, we have launched the only commercially scalable battery with a silicon dominant anode that can simultaneously provide high energy, high power, 1,000 fast charge cycles, and offers our partners a clear path to low-cost production.”

Photo Courtesy Ionblox 

Ionblox, founded in 2017, is poised to expand its operation following a second close of its Series B round at an increased $32 million. The close, announced in February, included original investors Lilium and Applied Ventures, with additional participation from Temasek and Catalus Capital. Ionblox plans to use the proceeds to scale its technology, develop advanced high-power cells for electric aviation, and prototype fast-charge cells for EVs.

“The funding from this round will enable us to take an important step in our journey to scale our technology and set up our own cell manufacturing in the U.S. and other key markets,” Kumar said in a press release.

To commercialize its next-generation technology, Ionblox has received a development contract from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium to develop low-cost, fast-charge electric vehicle batteries.

Idaho National Lab has verified Ionblox’s cell performance. The company is also partnering with leading semiconductor equipment manufacturer Applied Materials.


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