Next-generation battery start-up Sparkz has opened a US pilot facility to develop its patented solid-state battery technology.
The California R&D facility will manufacture— at pilot-scale— zero cobalt, solid-state batteries as the company begins the shift from development to commercialisation stages.
Sparkz opened an R&D and Innovation Center in Tennessee, US last year to conduct development and scale-up of lithium battery manufacturing based on zero cobalt cathodes.
The move was spurred by continued support from the California Energy Commission (CEC), which included a $2.6 million grant from the organisation last year to extend its development into solid-state batteries.
CEC funded the full amount possible for the first phase of the grant and will help Sparkz bridge the gap from their previous public funding awards to private investment.
Sparkz founder and CEO Sanjiv Malhotra, said the CEC funding and continued support was an important step towards securing this facility.
The former U.S. Department of Energy executive said: “The CEC understands that to challenge China’s domination of next-gen battery production, and reach America’s clean energy potential, we need to build sustainable battery facilities in the US; Sparkz is quickly approaching this goal and putting Americans to work.”
Sparkz, which was formed in 2019, is also exploring plants in the Appalachia to begin manufacturing zero cobalt, lithium-ion batteries for OEM partners.
The company has exclusive licenses to produce zero cobalt, lithium batteries and is committed to producing them in the U.S.
Sparkz has exclusively licensed six patents from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and one from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory— with both institutions continuing to be contributing partners.
Sparkz exclusively licensed a battery cycling technology from ORNL designed to enable the rapid production of lithium-ion batteries commonly used in portable electronic devices and electric vehicles.
ORNL’s technology, called fast formation cycling, reduces production time and enhances battery performance which can lead to reduced costs.
It’s the second licensing agreement between the start-up and ORNL; the previous agreement included five battery technologies designed to eliminate cobalt metal in lithium-ion batteries.
The licensed technologies include cathode materials, a novel electrolyte formula and a scaling process that will together enable industrial scale production of more sustainable, fast-charging cobalt-free batteries.
Sparkz’s Tennessee plant is located next to ORNL’s facility to “facilitate collaborative research”.