Ionic is trying to make halloysite happen for EVs
A Utah-based startup announced the debut of a product the company says is a replacement for graphite in lithium-based batteries used by electric vehicles.
Why it matters: Companies developing silicon-based battery materials are seeing an influx of funding due to the EV market's projected growth, in addition to buy-in from automakers Porsche, Mercedes and BMW.
- Ionic Mineral Technologies, headquartered in Salt Lake City, says the company is developing its nano-silicon material naturally, by mining halloysite. The mining approach is meant to bring the cost of the nan0-silicon lower than if it were made synthetically.
Meanwhile: Ionic in July closed its third fundraising round since its launch in 2020.
- Founder Andre Zeitoun tells Axios that the round gave the company a $300 million post-money valuation.
State of play: Graphite is plentiful, but it's among the bottlenecks holding back faster charging and longer range in EV batteries. Nano-silicon is seen as a potential drop-in replacement that would enable batteries to charge more quickly.
- Companies such as Sila and Group14 use silane gas to make a silicon-based graphite alternative. (A company called REC Silicone is a key supplier of silane gas.)
- Ionic, by contrast, says it can make its alternative more cheaply and efficiently by mining halloysite, a clay-like mineral.
- The company says it controls the world’s largest deposit of high-purity halloysite.
Of note: "We’re not trying to produce something new. We just have a more efficient, scalable way of actually producing it," Zeitoun says. "Extracting minerals from an open-pit mine is a heck of a lot cheaper than silane gas."
- The company notes via BloombergNEF that global demand for EVs is expected to go from 9% today to 60% by 2030.