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Northvolt buys up US lithium-ion battery technology company Cuberg

Thu, 03/18/2021 - 09:46 -- Paul Crompton

Gigafactory developer Northvolt has bought US-based battery technology company Cuberg with the goal of fast-tracking the commercialisation of its lithium metal cell.

Northvolt aims to deploy Cuberg’s technology, at scale, into the electromobility markets within three years, beginning with electric aviation.

The Swedish company aims to make cells based on Cuberg’s electrolyte technology for lithium metal anode, which has the potential to exceed 1,000Wh/L, in 2025.

Cuberg can produce its technology on existing lithium-ion manufacturing lines. Last June, the start-up’s technology was tested by Idaho National Laboratory on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. 

The laboratory found the 5-ampere-hour cells it tested had a specific energy of 369Wh/kg and a specific power of 2,000W/kg.

Cuberg’s customers include Boeing, BETA Technologies, Ampaire and VoltAero; its investors and financial backers include Boeing HorizonX Ventures, Activate.org, the California Energy Commission, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the TomKat Center at Stanford. 

Peter Carlsson, CEO and co-founder, of Swedish firm Northvolt, said combining Cuberg’s technology and customer base with the capabilities and technology of Northvolt would allow significant improvements in both performance and safety, while driving down cost of next-generation battery cells.

He said: “This is critical for accelerating the shift to fully electric vehicles and responding to the needs of the leading automotive companies within a relevant time frame.”

Cuberg, which spun out of Stanford University in 2015, has already demonstrated compatibility of its technology with the existing lithium-ion manufacturing ecosystem, which minimises time to market and enables rapid commercial deployment in the electromobility market. 

Northvolt also aims to establish an advanced technology center in Silicon Valley, California, US, based on the Cuberg acquisition. 

In addition to development of the technology and optimising the technology for automotive applications, the new center will focus on materials research and development for lithium-ion anode and electrolyte technologies. 

The center will enable Northvolt to engage and partner with the leading technology companies and universities in Silicon Valley. 

It will also serve as a testbed for methodologies leveraging digitalisation, artificial intelligence and machine learning.

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