Blackstone Technology declares bankruptcy
Blackstone Technology, a German division of Swiss commodities firm Blackstone Resources, has filed for insolvency. According to local media, a court in Chemnitz, Germany, processed the filing, which does not come as a complete surprise.
In its report breaking the news, Germany’s Wirtschaftswoche suggests that the declaration of bankruptcy followed “months of doubt”. Among other things, the magazine reported in May that series production of battery cells never took place. Blackstone Resources first announced in December 2021 it was ready to 3D-print battery cells at its plant in Döbeln, Saxony. At the time, the company did present the new LFP cells in detail, using cathode material from IBU-Tec in Weimar. Blackstone also set target production at 500 MWh to be reached in 2022.
However, the following news came out this spring when Blackstone Technology was talking about beginning (again?) and bringing 3D-printed sodium-ion batteries to market in 2025. To this end, the startup was to lead a German consortium “to the stage of demonstration in a real-world environment” of its cells. This time, the company only referred to laboratory results of 3D-printed batteries.
It, therefore, seems likely that today’s claims by Wirtschaftswoche are correct and that Blackstone Technology never actually started series production because the process did not work. The magazine adds that the presented cells were likely fake. Moreover, staff and suppliers have been waiting for money for months, and the first employees have been successful with their lawsuits against Blackstone in recent days, Wirtschaftswoche reports. The public prosecutor’s office in Chemnitz is also investigating on suspicion of subsidy fraud.
Blackstone has yet to comment. In May, CEO Ulrich Ernst expressed optimism about the outcome of a potential investigation, according to Wirtschaftswoche. Blackstone claimed to have successfully developed and tested a 3D printing process for manufacturing lithium-ion batteries. When the company introduced its technology, the 3D printing was to allow the battery cells to become thicker, which should increase the energy density by 20 per cent – Blackstone called this “Thick Layer Technology” and claimed an impressive energy density of 220 Wh/kg. By comparison, the blade batteries from the Chinese manufacturer BYD, considered technologically advanced LFP cells, are said to come to 166 Wh/kg at the cell level.
However, the company’s hopes for a last-minute investor to salvage the struggling startup have not materialised.
Blackstone Resources, the parent company, has faced challenges in Switzerland since last year. Authorities had raised concerns about violations in financial reporting and market manipulation, leading to the delisting of Blackstone’s stocks from the exchange. Although Blackstone disagreed with the allegations, it presented the withdrawal from the stock market as a voluntary decision, writes Wirtschaftswoche. The company stated its intention to pursue listings in Germany, England, or the United States shortly, but no new trading venue has been announced to date.
It remains to be seen whether Blackstone can find a path forward. The industry and investors will closely monitor developments as court proceedings unfold while stakeholders await further updates on the company’s plans for a potential resurgence.
wiwo.de (in German)