Sicona raises $3.7m to scale battery materials tech globally

Graphical image of a manufacturing plant (Sicona)

Sicona Battery Technologies Pty Ltd, a groundbreaking battery materials technology company based in NSW, has successfully raised $3.7 million in a pre-Series A funding round.

The funding round was led by global venture firm Artesian and US-based Riverstone Ventures, Bandera Capital, SDGx Ventures, and several prominent Australian climate-tech investors and global battery materials specialists.

This latest capital injection follows the company’s $1 million seed round in July 2020, the award of a $704,000 Accelerating Commercialisation Grant by the Australian Federal Government in November 2020, and Sicona’s participation in the prestigious Startmate accelerator in its Summer 2021 climate technology cohort.

Related article: Vanadium to be ‘workhorse’ of battery/renewables sector

Sicona, founded in June 2019 by entrepreneur Christiaan Jordaan and materials scientist Andrew Minett, is developing next-generation battery technology used in the anodes (negative electrodes) of lithium-ion batteries that enables electric mobility.

Sicona is commercialising innovative silicon-graphite composite battery anode and binder process technology and materials, developed and perfected over the past 10 years at the Australian Institute for Innovative Materials (AIIM) at the University of Wollongong.

Sicona’s current generation silicon-graphite composite anode materials deliver 50 per cent to 100 per cent higher capacity than conventional graphite-only materials and, as a result, its cell producer customers can unlock more than 50 per cent higher cell energy density than current Li-ion batteries, thereby increasing electric vehicle range while reducing the cost and the time it takes to charge.

According to a recent report prepared by Accenture for the Future Battery Industries Cooperative Research Centre (FBICRC), of which Sicona is an associate participant, diversified battery industries could contribute $7.4 billion annually to Australia’s economy and support 34,700 jobs by 2030.

One of the six opportunities identified in the report for Australia to expand its presence across the battery value chain is the establishment of “active materials manufacturing capability to serve the global value chain”. Sicona plans to establish domestic commercial-scale advanced manufacturing of its next-generation active anode materials.

The global lithium battery opportunity is growing rapidly with more than 4TWh (equivalent to 4,000GW-sized factories) of announced cell production requiring in excess of four million tonnes of anode materials per annum.

Related article: Multi-day iron-air battery a ‘breakthrough’ in energy storage

From its Australian base, Sicona also has its eyes firmly set on deploying commercial-scale production plants in Europe and North America.

“The energy density of current lithium-ion batteries is limiting performance, resulting in multiple issues including higher upfront costs and lower range for electric vehicles. It is our mission to provide scalable next-generation materials at an affordable cost to our customers,” Sicona founder and CEO Christiaan Jordaan said.

Artesian cleantech portfolio managerAlexandra Clunies-Ross said: “From the onset, we were very impressed by the Sicona team’s combination of technical and commercial acumen, their clear understanding of the battery materials market and supply chains, and the challenges to scaling new materials technologies from the laboratory into commercial production. We are impressed with their fast growth and are pleased to continue supporting Christiaan, Andrew, and the Sicona team.