TDK Ventures invests in seed round for dry lithium-ion electrode manufacturing startup, AM Batteries
TDK Ventures | September 21, 2021
TDK Corporation announced today that subsidiary TDK Ventures Inc. invests in AM Batteries (AMB) to support the commercialization of their dry electrode coating technology that improves the manufacturing of lithium-ion batteries built on a bedrock of unmatched expertise in advanced chemistry, surface science, and precision additive manufacturing. AMB's electrodes not only have the potential to save cost, but also offer a path toward fast charging, higher-energy density, and adaptability. AMB has early industry attraction to adopt this technology for pilot scale to mass production.
AMB has developed a novel additive Li-ion manufacturing technique by which the active materials (cathode/anode) are charged and sprayed onto metal foil current collectors, which are then processed to its final state to make batteries without the use of toxic solvent. This dry- coating method offers significant cost and energy savings over state-of-the-art "wet coating" procedures, providing a dramatic improvement to the sustainability of the overall cell making process. TDK Ventures' investment in AMB marks its continued focus on core technologies that catalyze broader decarbonization efforts via sustainable and scalable battery technologies.
"Our technology is extremely innovative and outside the box," stated Yan Wang AMB Co-founder and CEO. "TDK Ventures' proprietary knowledge and unique insights in the battery-manufacturing space helped validate our own technological progress. They also played a significant role in bringing a broad syndicate of financial, strategic, and OEM partners together by sharing their key techno-economic insights, thereby helping us assemble a world-class set of partners for our company."
Riding the rising tide of EVs, the demand for lithium-ion batteries has never been higher - with an expected need for more than 2,000 GWh by 2030. With this significant manufacturing capacity demand, environmental and carbon footprint are under increased scrutiny. Current wet-electrode manufacturing techniques consume up to 50% of the total manufacturing energy of the entire battery, require significant factory footprint to dry the solvent, and increase the CAPEX required for manufacturing plants. One of the most fundamental problems for battery manufacturers today is refining manufacturing techniques. Refining manufacturing techniques to remove the solvent is one of the most fundamental problems for all battery manufacturers today in the consumer electronics, large scale energy storage, and EV markets.
During Tesla's 2020 Battery Day last year, CEO Elon Musk said that dry-electrode technology is one of the most vital components for a step-change in the cost reduction of EV batteries; he also stated significant room for the technology's maturation and improvement. Tesla acquired Maxwell Technologies in early 2019 with an eye on potentially commercializing their dry-electrode technology.
"AMB has engineered a three-step electro-spraying system that seamlessly aligns with the existing process flow of lithium-battery manufacturing, which is not the case in competitive solutions, putting them at the very forefront of the industry," said Nicolas Sauvage, President of TDK Ventures. "In the future, we believe that battery manufacturers will not only differentiate on energy density, fast charge ability, or cost/kW, but also on the amount of CO2 emitted per the amount of energy stored, which is a measure of how sustainable one's electrode manufacturing process is. This positioning is a whole new value proposition for next-generation battery manufacturers and EV OEMs that align with consumer needs."
Eric Rosenblum, Foothill Ventures' Managing Partner commented: "The battery market for EVs is one of the world's most important markets, and this technology addresses two of the biggest issues: cost and sustainability. Dr. Yan Wang has proven himself to be one of the most successful inventors and serial entrepreneurs in the battery space, and we are also thrilled to partner again with TDK Ventures."
AMB closed its seed round of $3M in funding September 2021 with TDK Ventures and Foothill ventures co-leading the round. SAIC Capital (Tier I manufacturer), VinFast (Vietnamese EV OEM), Doral Energy-Tech Ventures (Israel Renewable Energy Company), Creative Ventures (financial VC firm from Silicon Valley) also participated in the round. In January 2020, AMB's founders secured a $2.4M three-year research grant by the United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), based on its strong foundational academic progress.
About TDK Ventures
TDK Ventures Inc. invests in startups to bolster innovation in materials science, energy/power and related areas typically underrepresented in venture capital portfolios. Established in 2019 as a wholly-owned subsidiary of TDK Corporation, the corporate venture company's vision is to propel the digital and energy transformations of segments such as health and wellness, next-generation transportation, robotics and industrial, mixed reality and the wider IoT/IIoT markets. TDK Ventures will co-invest and support promising portfolio companies by providing technical expertise and access to global markets where TDK operates.