Disruptor 50 2021

34. Sila Nanotechnologies

Founders: Gene Berdichevsky (CEO), Gleb Yushin, Alex Jacobs
Launched: 2011
Headquarters: Alameda, California
$925 million
Valuation: $3.3 billion
Key technologies:
Previous appearances on Disruptor 50 List: 0

Persephone Kavallines

Lithium-ion batteries have been commercially available since 1991, and yet the chemistry that allows these rechargeable batteries to run everything from our smartphones to electric vehicles hasn't had a major upgrade in three decades. That may soon change. Over 35,000 iterations, Silicon Valley-based Sila Nanotechnologies has been developing a new lithium-ion battery it hopes to have in EVs by 2025 which will go beyond anything available today.

Lithium-ion batteries contain two electrodes – an anode (negative) and a cathode (positive). Typically an electrolyte separates the two acting as a courier for ions. Sila Nano has developed a silicon-based anode to replace graphite, which is commonly used as an anode. Sila Nano's silicon anode allows more lithium ions to be stored in the battery, increasing energy density. This creates a battery that can be cheaper and contain more energy in the same space.

The company, founded in 2011, raised $590 million in Series F funding led by Coatue Management in January at a valuation of $3.3 billion, bringing its total funding to about $930 million. The new funds will be used to set up a North American plant that will open in 2024 and produce materials for 100 gigawatt-hours of batteries annually, in addition to hiring 100 new employees.

The company's co-founders Gene Berdichevsky and Gleb Yushin see innovations in chemistry and manufacturing providing a path to achieving a fast-charging battery cell capable of over a million miles, 10,000 cycles and a30-year calendar life. All of which would be produced in part with recycled materials and help meet rapidly growing demand for batteries.

From Hyundai to Ford and General Motors, nearly every global automaker has announced plans to bring more EVs to market in the coming years to challenge early leader Tesla as well as a slew of Chinese start-ups, as consumer demand continues to shift towards renewable energy. Sila has been able to lock in partnerships with BMW and Daimler AG.

Contributed by AJ Horch

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