Axios Seattle

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Today's newsletter is 836 words, a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: WA joins the EV battery revolution

Group14 Technologies' Battery Active Materials factory in Moses Lake (BAM-2) is expected to be in operation by the end of the year. Image: Courtesy of Group14 Technologies

Backed by a $100 million grant from the Department of Energy and hundreds of millions in private investment, Woodinville-based Group14 Technologies is working to address one of the most significant barriers to EV adoption: charging anxiety.

Why it matters: Widespread use of EVs is a key step in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, experts say, but the transition is turning out to be longer than many predicted in part thanks to this fear.

How it works: Group14 Technologies has developed a way to enhance battery performance by replacing graphite anodes with silicon carbon material, CEO Rick Luebbe told Axios.

  • This allows batteries to store up to 50% more energy and charge in as little as 10 minutes, he said.

The intrigue: Group14's focus now is on producing material for EV batteries, but the technology could be used by any company that supplies lithium ion batteries, including for consumer electronics, he added.

Reality check: Despite its growth, Group14 faces competition from the entrenched $23 billion global graphite battery market, Luebbe said.

State of play: The company raised more than $650 million from customers and investors including Porsche AG and the Microsoft Climate Innovation Fund.

In Washington, the company has a commercial-scale Battery Active Materials factory (BAM-1) in Woodinville and is building another, BAM-2, in Moses Lake.

  • BAM-2, expected to be completed by the end of the year, will be able to produce enough material to supply batteries for up to 200,000 vehicles per year, per Luebbe.

What we're watching: Group14 has promised BAM-2 will bring hundreds of new jobs to Moses Lake, as well as training programs for students at local community colleges and technical schools.

💭 Thought bubble from Axios transportation correspondent Joann Muller: "The holy grail for automakers is to design affordable EVs that are as seamless to drive as today's gasoline cars. That means cheaper batteries that can last 300 miles or more and can recharge in 5–10 minutes — about the same time as a gas fill-up.

  • "The battery industry isn't there yet, but there's a ton of innovation happening, and silicon batteries are one of several very promising technologies."

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💼 See who's hiring around the city.

  1. Director of Information Technology, Systems & Delivery at Highgate.
  2. IT Director/Solutions Architect - Digital and Technology Partners at Mount Sinai Health System.
  3. Deputy Director - Information Security Architecture & Engineering at Sound Transit.

Want more opportunities? Check out our Job Board.

Hiring? Use code FIRST50 for $50 off your first job post.

2. Catalytic converter crackdown

A California sheriff's deputy engraves a catalytic converter with a traceable number. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

With Gov. Jay Inslee's approval, Washington will get new protections for catalytic converters next year — and new penalties for stealing them.

Why it matters: Catalytic converters contain valuable metal and aren't easy to trace, which makes them easy to steal. That's led to a rise in thefts throughout Washington and nationally, with little recourse for car owners.

  • The thefts disproportionately impact the "people who can least afford it," King County senior prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff said during a committee hearing on the bill in February.

By the numbers: According to a 2023 report from the state and WSU, insurance claims for catalytic converter thefts spiked from 21 in 2019 to 2,079 in 2021.

  • The problem is so common that at least 31 states passed laws to crack down on it, the report also notes.

Zoom in: Per the new law, catalytic converters in Washington will be marked to enable tracing.

  • Catalytic converter sales will also be regulated, with documentation and licensing requirements for buyers and sellers.

How it works: When a car is sold, dealers will be required to offer buyers the service of etching the last eight digits of its vehicle identification number permanently onto the catalytic converter.

  • If the catalytic converter is stolen, law enforcement will then be able to easily trace it back to the original vehicle, the law's proponents argue.

What's next: The law goes into effect in April 2025.

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3. Morning Buzz: Youth mental health improves

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

📋 Depressive feelings among Washington youth have seen their biggest improvement in 20 years, a statewide survey finds. (Cascade PBS)

Washington's congressional delegation says the Northwest ICE Processing Center should be investigated after a detainee died at the Tacoma facility last month. (Washington State Standard)

🐳 The number of gray whales along the West Coast is growing again after years of decline. (Seattle Times)

🤡 From King County Metro to the Aquarium, local agencies and businesses committed to the bit for April Fools' Day. (Fox 13)

4. 🏈 Where the Seahawks shine

How Seattle Seahawks players rate their team's conditions, by category
Data: NFLPA; Table: Axios Visuals

Seahawks players are fairly happy with their locker room and their food, but they're not as pleased with the team's ownership and training staff, per a new survey.

Zoom in: In the latest annual report card from the NFL Players Association, the Seahawks ranked 14th among the league's 32 teams for overall player satisfaction.

Yes, but: Players gave the Seahawks some of the lowest marks when it came to training, with the team report card noting "the lack of staffing and resources provided in the training room."

What they're saying: "...There are not enough quality trainers, limiting the players' ability for one-on-one treatment for injury recovery and prevention," the report said.

When asked to rate the team's ownership, players gave Seahawks chairman Jody Allen a C+, which ranks in the bottom third of NFL teams.

The intrigue: The only "A" that Seahawks players awarded was for former head coach Pete Carroll, whom the team replaced in January with Mike Macdonald.

📺 Clarridge is not sure how she feels about Netflix's "3 Body Problem" and wonders if the story is simply too complicated for TV.

ğŸŽ¤ Megan, an elder millennial, is loving "Girls5eva." She does not have a good excuse for waiting this long to watch it.

This newsletter was edited by Emma Hurt and copy edited by Egan Millard.