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Nexeon raises $220m for silicon battery material manufacturing

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By Nick Flaherty

UK silicon anode material developer Nexeon has raised $90m (€90m) in the second half of its funding round. With $50m of customer commitments, this brings the total funding in this Series D round to $220m and a total backing of $328m for the materials that can drop into existing lithium ion battery lines to boost performance.

The $90m phase two round included $60m from US materials supplier Ingevity with the remainder from GLY Mobility Fund, a fund of Chinese car maker Geely that includes Volvo, with smaller investment funds in Korea.

“This fully funds the business plan,” Nexeon CEO Scott Brown told eeNews Power. “The only question is if we wanted to be more aggressive on building out production we might go to IPO but I think we would want to build out the first factory.”

The first phase of this Series D round saw an $80m raise led by Korean materials firm SKC which is licensing Nexeon’s first generation silicon material as well as private equity firm SJL. Nexeon is building a pilot plant at its site in Oxford.

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The commercial funding is a sign of the developing market for silicon in batteries. “With the $50m, some of that is upfront license fees for the first generation to SKC and some of it is capex commitments from other parties,” he said.  

The funding for the factory is to build the second generation silicon anode. “We are not licensing this to anyone,” said Brown. “Plans are progressing well. The pilot line is up and running and we think we can stretch capacity with that. We have hired a very experienced COO to choose the next site for volume production.”

“One of the facilities will be in partnership with SKC and we’ve already started talking to contractors and we are in discussions with raw material suppliers including Ingevity on contracts, but it’s probably a two year timeframe.”

“We want to be in the thousands of tonnes range with one of our major facilities and we will have several of those. The market for 2030 for silicon is hundreds of thousands of tonnes and we want our share of that with tens of thousands of tonnes,” he said. “Silicon will dominate the market by then. Cell makers can blend the silicon with graphite, it depends on the ratio but over time they will add more and more. We have one customer already using 90% silicon in the anode but that’s the exception. Others are starting at 10 to 20% with a roadmap to 80 to 90% over time,” he said.

Nexeon is already supplying a number of Tier 1 global battery manufacturers and OEMs. It is also actively engaged with emerging regional players as the electric vehicle market develops new supply chains. It is working with UK battery maker BritishVolt on a silicon battery cell design. 

“This oversubscribed funding round and other investments provide us with all the resources we need to execute on the manufacturing strategy for our game changing battery technology. We have already doubled in size this year as we have started to scale up,” said Brown.

“We are very excited to partner with Nexeon to advance technologies that will increase the efficiency and durability of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles and other consumer electronics, and ultimately contribute to efforts to protect our environment,” said John Fortson, CEO of Ingevity which also joins the board of Nexeon.

“This partnership expands applications for Ingevity’s activated carbon and creates significant opportunity for market growth,” he said.

www.nexeon.com

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