Bill Mulligan, a former Vice President at solar-panel maker SunPower Corp., joins Sila as its first chief operating office, the Alameda, California-based company said in a statement. Kurt Kelty, a former Panasonic Corp. and Tesla executive who then joined vertical-farming startup Plenty Inc., was named vice president of automotive.
The $45 million investment from Canada Pension Plan Investment Board brings the company’s total funding to $340 million, including an earlier contribution from Daimler AG. Daimler and BMW are automotive partners.
Sila is working to improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries, the key component of electric cars. Measured as kilowatt hours per kilogram or liter, energy density determines range: The more watt hours you have, the more miles the car can travel on a single charge. Low-cost, high-energy-density batteries are the holy grail.
The basic guts of a battery include a negatively charged anode, a positively charged cathode and the electrolyte. As a battery discharges, ions flow from the anode to the cathode, flowing through the electric circuit to releasing energy.
Sila is creating a silicon-based battery anode that’s fundamentally different chemistry than the graphite used in the most commercially popular anode material. Sila says its breakthrough can boost battery performance by 20%, which would be a big draw to original-equipment manufacturers in the auto industry.
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