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German eVTOL startup Lilium backs $24M funding round of California-based EV battery tech Ionblox 


Ionblox (previously Zenlabs Energy), a California-based high-performance lithium-ion cell company, has closed $24 million in a Series B investment round led by German eVTOL startup Lilium, with participation from Applied Ventures, LLC, and Catalus Capital. 

The company will use the funds to scale its operations and manufacturing capabilities as it ramps up production in the United States. Further, Ionblox also plans to invest in hiring and expanding the team, including manufacturing talent.

Addressing battery’s limitation

Founded by Sujeet Kumar, Herman Lopez, and Michael Sinkula in 2017, Ionblox aims to transform the future of mobility by land and air. 

“Ionblox has launched the only commercially scalable battery with a silicon dominant anode that can simultaneously provide high energy, high power, 1,000 fast charge cycles, and a clear path to low-cost production today,” says Sujeet Kumar, chief executive officer of Ionblox. “Our unique batteries can be scaled up with low risk and at a competitive cost, because we use commercially available materials and proven production processes and equipment, rather than costly and hard-to-scale proprietary materials.”

The Fermont company has addressed all the well-known challenges of using silicon as an active material, including swelling and irreversible capacity loss, and created a cell design that can uniquely deliver the key performance attributes that automotive and aviation applications. 

The company has more than 40 patents, including for the pre-lithiation of all silicon-based anodes. 

Ionblox’s proprietary pre-lithiated silicon oxide anode and cell design enable multiple performance attributes – fast charging, high energy, high power, and long life at low cost – pushing the limits of traditional battery storage technology.

The company’s batteries are ideally suited for high-performance automotive and aviation applications, enabling electric vehicle (EV) and electric vertical take-off and landing vehicle (eVTOL) companies to achieve their goals.

Third contract from USABC

Earlier this year, Ionblox received its third development contract from the United States Advanced Battery Consortium LLC (USABC), providing $3.5 million in cost share for developing low-cost, fast-charge electric vehicle batteries. 

“The long-term success of the eVTOL regional air mobility revolution depends on the continued development of high-performance batteries. After an extensive review, Ionblox’s pouch cell technology will be well-positioned to achieve superior combined performance for high power and energy density. We are very excited to continue our joint development,” said Yves Yemsi, chief operating officer of Lilium. 

“Applied Ventures is very impressed with the tremendous progress Sujeet, and the Ionblox team have made developing silicon anode batteries in collaboration with Applied Materials, Lilium, and EV companies,” said Anand Kamannavar, global head of Applied Ventures. “We look forward to supporting Ionblox in accelerating the commercialisation of its next-generation batteries.”

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