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Exclusive: Temasek backs battery maker Ionblox

Alan Neuhauser
Feb 8, 2023

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Ionblox, a California-based battery maker for electric aircraft, has received an $8 million investment from Temasek.

Why it matters: The capital infusion from the Singapore sovereign wealth fund caps a $32 million Series B that closed last month, Ionblox tells Axios.

Details: Lilium, a German developer of electric jets; Applied Ventures; and Catalus Capital participated in the Series B.

  • The first close took place in October. Temasek invested an undisclosed seed amount at the time, but needed to complete further due diligence, Ionblox CEO Sujeet Kumar tells Axios.
  • Ionblox declined to disclose a valuation. The company is deciding between one of two candidates to appoint as an independent board member.

Catch up fast: Battery cells are compiled into modules. Battery modules are then combined in a battery pack.

  • Battery cells typically use anodes that are made largely from graphite.

What's happening: Ionblox, previously named Zenlabs Energy, uses silicon in those anodes instead.

  • Silicon promises greater energy density, more power and faster charging. But it's prone to swelling and fracturing.
  • Ionblox uses silicon cells that are "pre-lithiated," coated in a sheathe of lithium, which the company says mitigates those problems.

What they're saying: "Our batteries can recharge 80% in 10 minutes. And not one time, but 1,000 times," Kumar says.

Context: Other companies working with silicon-based battery materials include Sila, Group14, Amprius and Enovix.

What's next: Ionblox, based in Fremont, Calif., is using the capital from this round to complete development of its large-format cells and expand manufacturing capacity.

  • It's planning to launch a Series C in the next three months, targeting $50 million to $100 million.
  • The company also plans to apply for Department of Energy funding and programs, Kumar tells Axios. It previously received a development contract from the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium.

What we're watching: Lilium, the electric jet developer, is based in Munich. But Ionblox's customers include U.S.-based eVTOL makers too.

  • "Maybe this year we'll sign an offtake agreement and make those announcements," Kumar says.
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