Sweden’s battery cell manufacturer and Volkswagen partner Northvolt acquired the US startup Cuberg to commercialise longer-range Lithium-metal batteries. Existing clients include Boeing and electric aviation startups, while Northvolt also plans an R&D centre in California.
Northvolt did not disclose details of the transaction but sees Cuberg taking the lead in advancing their US operations and offering new battery cells at “a lower price point, better performance and increased safety.”
Having launched as a spin-off from Stanford University, Cuberg’s lithium metal technology is based on a novel liquid electrolyte combined with a lithium metal anode that Northvolt considers a “breakthrough”. Cuberg is already supplying customers such as Boeing, BETA Technologies, Ampaire and VoltAero. Boeing had invested in Cuberg in early 2018, as reported.
Northvolt further stresses “trusted third parties” – see above – had confirmed the cells to deliver more than 70 per cent increased range and capacity versus comparable lithium-ion cells designed for high-rate electric aviation applications.
“The Cuberg team has shown exceptional ability to develop world-class technology, proven results and an outstanding customer base in a lean and efficient organization,” added Peter Carlsson, CEO and Co-Founder of Northvolt. “Combining these strengths with the capabilities and technology of Northvolt allows us to make significant improvements in both performance and safety while driving down cost even further for next-generation battery cells.”
What made Cuberg attractive for the acquisition was apparently the fact that the Americans also addressed “the biggest challenge with emerging battery technologies,” – effective manufacturing scale-up, according to Northvolt. Because the cells can also be manufactured on lithium-ion cell production lines, Northvolt plans to produce the new batteries on a large scale within three years – first for aerospace, then for other applications, with the company stating their ambition to industrialise cells in 2025 that exceed 1,000 Wh/L.
The Swedish company also plans to establish a technology centre in Silicon Valley following the acquisition of Cuberg. Apart from the above activities, they will focus on materials research and new development, with Northvolt actively hiring battery engineers. The centre will enable Northvolt “to engage and partner with the leading technology companies and universities in Silicon Valley, to bridge ongoing research efforts between Europe and North America,” states the Northvolt.
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