July 12, 2024
Dutch startup wins €15M to develop first solid-state battery factory

As the world electrifies, the race is on to build better batteries that take you further, charge faster, are safer, and more sustainable. 

Dutch startup LionVolt is developing 3D solid-state batteries that it says ticks all the above — and it’s just raised €15mn to scale up production.

LionVolt — a spinout from TNO’s Holst Centre in Eindhoven, the Netherlands — is working on solid-state batteries that don’t contain the liquid lithium common in standard lithium-ion devices. 

Instead, the batteries are made up of a thin film containing billions of solid pillars, creating a patented 3D architecture with a large surface area. Compared to lithium batteries, the ions only have to travel a short distance, which makes charging and discharging much faster. Using a solid material rather than a liquid also means that the battery cannot catch fire or explode

As the startup’s CEO and co-founder Karl McGoldrick previously explained to TNW, the heightened surface area inside the battery allows for an almost record-breaking energy density of 450 Wh/kg. Tesla’s 4,680 cells, for comparison, measure somewhere between 244-296 Wh/kg.

LionVolt further claims its batteries weigh 50% less and provide 200% better performance compared to the most advanced lithium-ion batteries available today. The cells can already be used in wearables, but the company eventually plans to build a gigafactory in Eindhoven to make batteries for EVs.

Armed with fresh equity funding, which brings the company’s total raised so far to €30mn, LionVolt looks to embark on the next phase of growth.  

A big thank you to our investors for their confidence in us,” the company said on LinkedIn. “Looking forward to accelerating LionVolt as a leading next-gen battery company by leveraging the core strengths of our teams in the Netherlands and the UK.” 

The announcement comes just two weeks after LionVolt acquired AMTE Power, pulling the Scottish battery cell manufacturer out of administration. 

AMTE Power, which went bankrupt in December, specialised in lithium-ion and sodium-ion cells used in high performance EV batteries and long-duration energy storage.

Under the deal, LionVolt now owns the company’s battery-cell manufacturing and production businesses based in Thurso, Scotland. It will repurpose the site to produce its own solid-state battery technology.  

Sandeep Unnikrishnan, CTO of LionVolt, called it a “dream scenario” for a deeptech company like theirs. “It helps us mature our innovative 3D battery technology quicker by leveraging the manufacturing expertise from the team in Scotland, thereby reducing time-to-market.”

In a busy start to the year for LionVolt, the startup also secured a space to set up its first pilot production plant at the Brainport Industries Campus (BIC) in Eindhoven. 

LionVolt’s recent successes are good news for the EU, which is pushing to increase its share of battery production amid an industry dominated by cheap imports from China.

Back in 2019, the bloc invested a whopping €60bn into domestic EVs and battery production, which undoubtedly helped some of Europe’s most promising startups, such as Northvolt, scale to where they are now. 

As numerous other companies, such as CATL in China or Toyota in Japan, announce breakthroughs in solid-state batteries, Europe will no doubt have to double down on funding. Whether it does or not could prove decisive for LionVolt and European battery startups. 

As McGoldrick stressed, if Europe is to feature prominently in the great battery race at all, then investing in novel technology — which means taking a chance on younger companies — is essential.

“We have to be braver,” he says. “Otherwise, we’ll be buying all our batteries from China.”

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