The word seems to have gotten out that Moses Lake is the place to be for battery technologies. With two companies – Group 14 Technologies and Sila Nonotechnologies moving quickly into full production of silicon-enhanced materials to help batteries perform better and charge faster, the area is now home to a pilot manufacturing battery startup out of California, OneD Battery Sciences.
The company broke ground on their new facility Oct. 10. The 25,000-square-foot building will serve as a proving ground, leading to pilot-scale production. The company invested $15-to-$20 million to build out the site, which will employ 20 employees. At scale, it will produce 100 tons of silicon-graphite anode material annually. The material will be enough to conduct testing for new types of electric vehicle batteries and serve as proof of concept.
“It’s super exciting,” said Dan Schwartz, founding director of the University of Washington’s Clean Energy Institute. “We’ve been in conversations for quite a while with several of those companies around how we support the battery innovation ecosystem.”
One of the draws for the region is REC Silicon, which restarted the production of silane, a gas that’s a precursor to silicon. It is one of only three sources of silane in the U.S., the other two are in Montana and Tennessee.
OneD hopes to begin production in early 2024. Group14 will come online at the same time with 4,000 tons of annual capacity. Sila will start producing in the first half of 2025. Together, Group14 and Sila will be able to provide battery power for 300,000 electric vehicles.
The addition of silicon to the anodes of lithium batteries allows more energy to be stored compared to graphite. The result is a 25% reduction in the number of battery cells required to maintain the same range performance of current EVs.
General Motors is partnering with OneD in the research and development phase of their new battery technologies. If everything goes smoothly the pilot may turn into full production of EV batteries for GM and other manufacturers.