Silicon battery technology gets the seal of approval from Porsche, which has put up the big bucks to help Group14 build the world's biggest silicon battery materials factory in Washington State (image courtesy of Group14).

Porsche Behind World’s Biggest Factory For Silicon Battery Materials

Sign up for daily news updates from CleanTechnica on email. Or follow us on Google News!

Porsche has been running behind the electric vehicle pack, but the company appears set to catch up, bigly. The company has put down stakes in the US startup Group14 Technologies, which has just started to build a new silicon battery materials factory billed as the largest facility of its kind in the world. The venture launches Porsche out of EV wallflower status and puts another seal of approval on new silicon battery technology.

Why Such A Fuss Over Silicon Battery Materials

If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, that’s a good question. Graphite is still the material of choice for lithium-ion EV batteries, but automotive stakeholders have been eyeballing the addition of silicon to improve capacity and fast-charging performance.

The R&D process has taken a while, with some firms opting for a silicon-graphite combo while others have gone full silicon.

Group14 falls into the first category. The company came across the CleanTechnica radar in July of 2020, when the US Department of Energy included it in a $139 million funding program spread out among 55 different projects, all aimed at various improvements in vehicle efficiency.

Group14’s share of the pie was almost $4 million in funding for a project titled, “Rationally Designed Lithium Ion Batteries Towards Displacing Internal Combustion Engines.”

All that hard work paid off. Group14 is marketing a silicon-carbon powder under the proprietary name SCC55.

Aside from the improvements in battery performance, Group14 notes that SCC55 is a drop-in, tailor-able formula that can accelerate the timeline for getting more electric vehicles into production.

“SCC55™ requires no capital expense for equipment upgrades to current battery manufacturing facilities, side stepping years of long lead times typical for adopting new technologies,” Group14 explains.

Porsche Jumps On Silicon Battery Bandwagon

Not too long ago, it would have been difficult to imagine that icons of the high performance gasmobile like Porsche would pick up the EV torch. However, Porsche has been working behind the scenes, and the company did its homework before putting up a stake in Group14. In March of 2021 Porsche issued a recap of its silicon battery research and positioned itself as a leader in the field.

“Porsche has already taken on a pioneering technological role in the development of 800-volt technology, first in the 919 Le Mans racing car and now in the Taycan electric sports car,” Porsche explained.

“In order to meet the extreme demands placed on cell systems in high-performance applications, it is necessary to change the cell chemistry from graphite to silicon anodes,” the company emphasized.

In the same recap, Porsche also released its plans for production.

“The new batteries will be produced in Europe and initially used in limited-production, high-performance vehicles and in customer motorsport,” the company stated, which seemed to indicate that US customers would have to wait their turn. However, things seem to be moving along at a rapid clip.

The last time we checked, Porsche was on track to hook up with Group14 and the Slovakian firm InoBat for the European battery plant. A joint venture factory in with SK Inc. of South Korea is also in the works.

The new Moses Lake factory joins Group14’s existing “Battery Active Materials” factory at the same location. Group14 describes the 1 million square foot campus as “the world’s largest factory of advanced silicon battery materials for EV programs.”

Group14 plans to tap Washington State’s copious reserves of hydropower for zero emission electricity. An artist’s rendering of the facility (see image above) also suggests that the campus will be larded with solar panels.

Chip in a few dollars a month to help support independent cleantech coverage that helps to accelerate the cleantech revolution!

A Prestige Investment For Porsche, And US Taxpayers, Too

Group14 closed out the first $400 million in Series C in May of 2022, with Porsche leading the charge alongside OMERS Capital Markets, Decarbonization Partners, Riverstone Holdings LLC, Vsquared Ventures, and Moore Strategic Ventures.

The series was capped by an additional $214 million last December. Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, Lightrock Climate Impact Fund, Moore Strategic Ventures, Oman Investment Authority, and Molicel all piled on to bring the total to $614 million.

Going by the numbers, Group14 has become a prestige investment for Porsche, and for US taxpayers. The Biden administration has chipped in with an additional $100 million towards the new silicon battery materials factory on top of the R&D grant from 2020.

Group14 cites Pitchbook, which determined that the Series C round was among the top 10 largest financings in the climate tech sector last year.

“The growing importance of market-ready, transformational battery technology to power the electrification of everything has given rise to a wave of interest from strategic, financial and impact investors in commercial manufacturers of silicon battery technology like Group14,” Group14 says of itself.

Don’t just take their word for it. Brandon Middaugh, the Director of Microsoft’s Climate Innovation Fund, notes that the Fund is on a mission to scout for “solutions based on cutting-edge science that can accelerate decarbonization.”

“Group14’s technology shows strong potential to accelerate decarbonization of transportation, electronics, energy storage, and beyond,” Middaugh adds.

What Else Is Cooking Over At Porsche?

CleanTechnica has spilled more than a little ink on Porsche’s electrification journey. The company has also been making some other significant moves in the area of sustainable technology.

In 2020, for example, the company’s Porsche Motorsport division introduced sustainable fiber bodywork on a Cayman 718 GT4 CS MR at the Nürburgring 24-hour endurance race. That’s a gasmobile, but the benefits could easily apply to electric vehicles.

“…the Cayman’s new sustainable fiber parts weigh less, cost less, and perform as well as their non-sustainable counterparts, which could ripple on over to impact the ranges and price points for the Taycan and other EVs rolled out by Porsche in the future. After all, an EV battery loves nothing more than lighter weight,” CleanTechnica observed.

Sure enough, the supplier of the Cayman bodywork, the Swiss firm Bcomp, notes that Porsche’s Mission R electric concept car incorporates the company’s flax fiber technology.

For all the electrification activity, Porsche is not giving up on ICE technology just yet. However, the company is preparing for a shift out of fossil resources and into e-fuels, aka electrofuels, meaning synthetic fuels produced from green hydrogen and captured carbon. In 2020, Porsche joined Siemens and other partners to develop the Haru Oni electrofuels project in Chile, so stay tuned for more on that.

Follow me on Trainwreck Twitter @TinaMCasey.

Find me on Spoutible: @TinaMCasey or LinkedIn @TinaMCasey or Mastodon @Casey or Post:  @tinamcasey

Image: New silicon battery materials factory courtesy of Group 14.

Have a tip for CleanTechnica? Want to advertise? Want to suggest a guest for our CleanTech Talk podcast? Contact us here.

Latest CleanTechnica.TV Videos

CleanTechnica uses affiliate links. See our policy here.

Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

Tina Casey has 3330 posts and counting. See all posts by Tina Casey