2023 Chevy Bolt, image courtesy of GM

GM Leads $50 Million Funding Round In EnergyX To Unlock US-Based Lithium

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General Motors Inc. (GM) and Energy Exploration Technologies Inc. (EnergyX) recently disclosed a strategic partnership to advance EnergyX’s General Motors extraction and refinery technologies in addition to the disclosure that GM Ventures is leading a $50 million Series B investment round in EnergyX. By employing EnergyX’s cutting-edge method to maximize efficiency while enhancing sustainability for GM’s rapidly expanding EV production, the alliance intends to increase the supply of lithium, a crucial component for EV batteries, in North America.

EnergyX’s direct lithium extraction (DLE) technology portfolio can produce lithium metal directly from brine, and possibly in anode-ready form for electric vehicle batteries, enabling more cost-effective and sustainable lithium recovery and opening up a sizable lithium supply chain in North America that would otherwise be impractical.

GM is making investments in all parts of the North American battery supply chain, including raw materials, processing, cell components, and full battery cell production.

The extensive collaboration between these two American companies includes three key components:

  • A program to develop new technologies that will assist the commercialization of EnergyX’s advanced DLE and refinery processes, which could supplement or replace current evaporation pond technologies.
  • An arrangement allowing General Motors to utilize competitive lithium offtakes for its sole use in the construction of electric vehicles, including raw materials obtained from EnergyX-hired mining companies in North and South America.
  • With EnergyX’s technology to support more strategic financing for lithium production projects in North and South America, GM may have access to new supply chain opportunities.

“The EnergyX team of scientists and engineers have worked relentlessly for five years developing cutting-edge DLE technology to solve the immense bottlenecks that have limited global lithium production and supply chain,” said Teague Egan, CEO, EnergyX. “This single bottleneck (a massive lithium shortage) is the biggest challenge to scaling EV production. We will unlock lithium supply in the U.S., a pivotal move in expanding the EV industry. There are many ways of gauging success, but few are more rewarding than the support of leaders like GM. We’re energized by GM’s investment and will keep a ‘Day 1’ attitude as we pursue our goal of making EnergyX the biggest lithium company in the world.”

“We are committed to securing EV critical minerals that are sustainable and cost competitive to maintain our leadership position among automakers,” said Jeff Morrison, GM vice president of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain. “The investment in EnergyX is a further proof point of GM’s leadership position. EnergyX is developing a novel direct lithium extraction process that’s not only cost competitive but also will reduce energy, land and water usage as compared to the current extraction and processing process for brine-based lithium. We are excited to be partnered with EnergyX on their efforts.”

EnergyX made history in 2022 when it was the first company to develop, construct, and launch an in-field pilot plant in the Lithium Triangle, which contains more than 65% of all known worldwide lithium deposits. In comparison to the existing industry standard of 30–40% using ponds, the company’s LiTASTM technology enhances lithium recovery rates to over 90% and reached 94% during their field experiments. EnergyX will scale those systems to more robust market demonstration plants located at five regional test beds in North and South America after a successful five-month pilot program demonstrating the efficacy of the LiTASTM lithium refinery process. This will be followed by full-scale commercialization.

EnergyX is one of the global leaders in DLE technology thanks to this new round of funding, which was provided by GM and other investors. It will also allow the company to expand its research and development efforts for pure lithium metal anodes and its solid-state lithium metal battery program, SoLiSTM.

EnergyX already employs more than 50 people and plans to raise that number to 100 in the upcoming months. EnergyX is currently building a 40,000 square foot research and production facility in Austin, Texas, to accommodate its expanding operation.

GM has been working to increase its EV production capacity in recent years and has taken steps to secure all battery raw materials needed to support its goal. This agreement with EnergyX is another important step in meeting that goal.

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