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Renault's electric concept car ZOE e- Sport on display during Auto Expo 2018 earlier this month. Photo: Burhaan Kinu / Hindustan Times via Getty Images

Ionic Materials has raised another $65 million to help the development and commercialization of its plastic solid-state battery tech, with funders including an alliance of auto giants Renault, Nissan and Mitsubishi and a relative newcomer Volta Energy Technologies.

Why it matters: Improvements in battery tech are a key piece of the puzzle to speeding deployment of electric vehicles, as well as stationary power storage that can help bring far more renewables onto the grid. But developing solid-state technology has been a challenge even as it offers the promise of more energy-rich batteries.

The gritty details: The Massachusetts-based battery materials company's other backers include VC heavyweights Kleiner Perkins and the prominent technology investor and expert Bill Joy.

Notable: Yesterday's announcement of Series C funding was also the first investment from Volta Energy Technologies. The recently formed Volta is backed by utility giant Exelon and the chemical company Albemarle. It has an agreement with Argonne National Laboratory to help develop and validate promising energy storage technologies.

Volta CEO Jeff Chamberlain chatted with Axios about the prospects for Ionic’s tech in EVs and stationary storage, as well as what’s next for Volta. Here are some of the takeaways from our interview:

1. The lab connection: Ionic is a good fit for Volta’s relationship with Argonne, an agreement designed to provide access to the DOE’s facilities and expertise using private money, he says.

  • Ionic’s work with the lab will begin this year, but Chamberlain did not disclose how much of the $65 million is coming from Volta.
“We have some concrete ideas on how Ionic might benefit from working with Argonne, and frankly I doubt we would be an investor if Ionic did not see some ways they could work with Argonne,” he says.
  • He said the lab’s capacity to analyze material behavior at the molecular level is important to eventually tailoring it to specific commercial applications.

2. Catching up: Lithium-ion batteries with liquid electrolytes are the standard today. But Chamberlain argues that solid-state technologies are safer and more energy-dense and will eventually be the “end game.” However, he declines to speculate on when Ionic's new tech will be deployed.

“In order to get to that end game for lithium, we believe you must get to solid state and we believe this is a very good opportunity to get to that,” he said.

3. Volta’s next moves: Chamberlain says the company will announce more investments this year. He declined to identify specific technologies, but emphasizes that Volta is looking at the entire energy storage ecosystem, not just battery materials.

“It is a suite of materials, new chemistry, integration hardware and charging hardware, and new artificial intelligence software that ties it all together,” he says.

Go deeper

Updated 3 hours ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: Contact tracing fizzles across America — New clues emerge on long COVID — Omicron is finally burning out — It's very difficult to get access to antiviral COVID treatments — Axios-Ipsos poll: Omicron's big numbersAnother wave of death — FDA limits use of Regeneron and Lilly antibody treatments.
  2. Vaccines: Pfizer begins clinical trial for Omicron-specific vaccine — The shifting definition of fully vaccinated.
  3. Politics: Virginia AG says public colleges can't mandate COVID vaccines —Alaska governor joins Texas lawsuit over National Guard vaccine mandate — Navy discharges 45 sailors for refusing vaccine — Spotify to remove Neil Young's music after his Joe Rogan ultimatum — White House: 60M households have ordered free COVID-19 rapid tests.
  4. World: U.K. to lift travel testing requirement for fully vaccinated — Beijing Olympic Committee lowers testing threshold ahead of Games.
  5. Variant tracker
6 hours ago - World

Biden will move U.S. troops to Eastern Europe "in the near term"

President Biden boards Air Force One at Joint Base Andrews on Jan. 28. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden said on Friday he plans to move U.S. troops to Eastern European and NATO countries “in the near term.”

Driving the news: “Not too many” U.S. troops, Biden added in remarks to reporters at Joint Base Andrew upon returning from a trip to Pennsylvania.