SPARKZ Inc., a battery startup with exclusive licenses to produce domestic cobalt-free lithium batteries (earlier post), has won a grant for $2.6 million from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to extend its development into solid-state batteries. CEC funded the full amount possible for the first phase of the grant and will help SPARKZ bridge the gap from their previous public funding awards to private investment.
The CEC funding will help SPARKZ begin to engineer a solid-state, cobalt-free battery in the US. SPARKZ will be announcing its private sector investors, customers and OEM partnerships in the near future.
Founded by industry veteran and former US Department of Energy executive Sanjiv Malhotra, SPARKZ will begin commercialization of a cobalt-free, US-made Lithium-ion battery, while continuing its research and development focused on re-engineering the rest of the battery supply chain.
The company’s first commercial product will eliminate cobalt, traditionally used in the cathode of a Lithium battery, with the objective of reducing the cost of Lithium battery production in the US, while also eliminating a primary environmental concern, and reducing chokepoints created by a foreign supply chain.
Sparkz cobalt-free battery offers 2X the energy density compared to other cobalt-free batteries (Lithium Iron Phosphate or LFP) being produced predominantly in China.
SPARKZ will begin pilot-testing with its OEM partners in early 2022. Its initial research shows the ability to reduce the cost of cell manufacturing by about 40%, while maintaining energy density and cycle-life comparable to chemistries that utilize cobalt.
SPARKZ is also evaluating locations for its first manufacturing facility in the United States to scale their licensed battery technologies to meet the demands of its existing customers in the mobility and grid sectors.
The company also believes it is in the best position to meet four of the five goals from the recently released National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries, which calls for eliminating Nickel and cobalt from Lithium batteries by 2030 to develop “a stronger, more secure and resilient supply chain.”
SPARKZ was founded in late 2019 and has been in stealth mode. SPARKZ has completed the transfer of 6 patents from the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which continues to be an R&D partner. In addition to being 100% cobalt-free, the patents also reduce production time significantly and enhance battery performance.