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Battery Startup Ampcera’s Future Is Solid

Image courtesy of Ampcera Ampcera-2.jpg
Ampcera technical team in the lab. The company’s short-term production goal is to produce more than 12 metric tons of its sulfide-based SSB materials per year.
The company is scaling its production of sulfide-based electrolyte materials for solid-state batteries.

With a fresh infusion of more than $10 million capital to scale the production of critical materials for solid-state batteries, Ampcera is poised to deliver significant innovation to the industry.

Based in California’s Silicon Valley and with R&D and production facilities in Tucson, AZ, Ampcera is a pioneer in the development and commercialization of solid electrolyte materials to enable revolutionary high-energy density, fast-charging and safe Lithium batteries, explained co-founder and CEO Dr. Sumin Zhu. The company’s primary products are solid-state electrolyte materials—in particular, sulfide-based materials for solid-state batteries (SSBs).

Scaling to meet demand

Ampcera, which launched in 2017, “is a major developer and supplier of solid-state electrolyte materials, which are the critical materials for making solid-state batteries,” Zhu said. The company positions itself “as a trusted supplier of critical materials for making solid-state batteries. We take a market-oriented approach and have pioneered the commercialization of solid-state electrolyte materials. In fact, Ampcera has more than 200 paying customers worldwide, more than any other companies in this market.”

Image courtesy of AmpceraAmpcera-3.jpg

Sample of sulfide-based electrolyte material.

The company is scaling up production of its sulfide-based solid-state electrolytes to meet quickly increasing market demand. “The short-term production goal is to reach more than 12 metric tons per year production capacity,” Zhu said. “The long-term production goal is to reach high-volume production and reduce the average materials cost to less than $50 per kilogram.”

According to the company’s website, Ampcera’s solid-state electrolyte and battery technologies are projected to reach less than 10-minute ultra-fast charge and gravimetric and volumetric energy densities of 450 Wh/kg and 1400 Wh/L, respectively.

Eco-friendly processes

Ampcera's sustainability story centers on products and technologies that “enable safe, high energy density and fast-charging solid-state batteries for electric cars and other energy storage applications, which contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emission. Our production process is eco-friendly and scalable to high volume with minimum environmental impact.”

Funding for the startup has come from a combination of venture investments, government grants and profits from the sales of products. Its total funding received to date is more than $10 million. The $15 million Series A funding round with lead investor Hanwha Solutions, announced on Dec. 12, fuels Ampcera’s mission to make solid-state batteries cost-competitive with conventional EV lithium-ion batteries and fossil-fuel powered vehicles, as well as accelerates the integration of its solid electrolyte in solid-state batteries.

“Our sulfide-based solid electrolyte materials demonstrate superior performance with the room temperature ionic conductivity exceeding 12 mS/cm, which is comparable to the flammable liquid electrolyte that is to be replaced by the solid electrolyte,” said Dr. Hui Du, Ampcera's co-founder and CTO. “In addition to 25-plus patents and patent applications and trade secrets, our technology is further bolstered through collaborations with auto OEMs, cell producers, national laboratories, and universities, including multiple projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.”

Experienced leadership

Between Zhu and Du, Ampcera boasts plenty of leadership know-how. Zhu received his Ph.D. in ceramic engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology in 2008. He also completed a marketing strategy program from Cornell University and an executive business program from the Wharton School. He has spent the past 15 years working in the industry in various roles including R&D, manufacturing, marketing, business development, sales and strategic management.

Meanwhile, Du has more than 10 years battery industry experience. Prior to co-founding Ampcera, he was the manager of the materials department at Sion Power. Du received his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and completed his post-doctor training at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado. Du and Zhu have also co-founded and developed another materials science company, MSE Supplies, which has become a well-known supplier of advanced materials and laboratory products with more than 20,000 customers worldwide.

In addition to having Hanwha Solutions as a strategic partner and investor, Ampcera also partners with a number of automotive OEMs and battery makers to integrate its electrolyte materials in solid-state batteries.

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