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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 25 mins ago - Sports

IOC: Belarus sprinter who sought refuge in Tokyo "safe"

Krystsina Tsimanouskaya of Belarus in 2019. Photo: Ivan Romano/Getty Images

Belarusian Olympian Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who sought refuge in Tokyo, is in the care of Japanese authorities and the UN refugee agency is now involved in her case, an International Olympic Committee official told reporters Monday.

The latest: Officials in Poland and the Czech Republic have offered to help the 24-year-old sprinter, who refused national team orders to board a flight home after being taken to Tokyo's Haneda airport Sunday following her criticism of Belarusian coaches, per Reuters

Updated 1 hour ago - Sports

Olympics dashboard

Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs of Team Italy crosses the finish line ahead of American Fred Kerley in the men's 100m final on day nine of the Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan, on Sunday. Photo: Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

🚨: IOC "looking into" American Raven Saunders' Olympic podium gesture

🏃🏾: Italy's Lamont Marcell Jacobs: Reconnecting with U.S. father "gave me the desire to win" Olympic 100m sprint race.

🥇High jumpers persuade Olympic officials to let them share gold

🏌️‍♂️: Golfer Xander Schauffele wins gold for U.S. by one shot

🤸🏿‍♀️: Simone Biles won't compete in Olympic floor finals, individual vault or uneven bars

🏳️‍⚧️: Axios at the Olympics: Games grapple with trans athletesTrans athletes see the Tokyo Games as a watershed moment

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Updated 2 hours ago - Sports

IOC "looking into" American Raven Saunders' Olympic podium gesture

Team USA's Raven Saunders gestures on the podium with her silver medal after competing in the women's shot put event during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo on Sunday. Photo: Ina Fassbender/AFP via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee is "looking into" U.S. shot-putter Raven Saunders' gesture on the Tokyo Games podium after she won a silver medal, IOC spokesperson Mark Adams told reporters Monday.

Why it matters: Saunders told AP she placed her hands above her head in an "X" formation while on the podium to stand up for "oppressed" people. The IOC has banned protests during the Tokyo Games.