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Next-gen battery startup Sila breaks ground on Washington facility with $100M in DOE support

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Artist rendering of the Sila manufacturing facility being built in Moses Lake, Wash. (Sila Image)

Next-generation battery materials startup Sila broke ground on Wednesday on its first automotive-scale manufacturing facility located in Moses Lake, Wash.

The news may sound familiar. Group14 Technologies and OneD Battery Sciences have both kicked off construction of manufacturing sites to produce battery materials in the arid, rural Eastern Washington town. All three are producing silicon-enhanced materials for making batteries higher performing and faster charging.

“The Sila Moses Lake plant will further solidify this region as a national hub for advanced batteries and the innovation of clean energy technologies,” said Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell in a video shared at the event Wednesday.

Less than three hours from Seattle, Moses Lake has numerous features making it an attractive destination for battery businesses. That includes access to clean, affordable energy and proximity to REC Silicon, a company that recently restarted its production of silane, a gas that’s a precursor to silicon. There are only three U.S. sources for silane, with the other two being REC’s facility in Butte, Mont., and Wacker Chemie in Charleston, Tenn.

Cantwell pushed for the program that is providing $100 million each to Sila and Group14 to establish their manufacturing sites. The dollars came from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and were awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Attendees at the Sila groundbreaking in Moses Lake, Wash., on Nov. 29, 2023, from left: Alex Fitzsimmons, Sila’s head of government affairs; Daniel Cunningham, deputy director for technology at the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E); Evelyn Wang, ARPA-E director; Gov. Jay Inslee; Gene Berdichevsky, Sila’s CEO and cofounder; Giulia Siccardo, director of DOE Office of Manufacturing & Energy Supply Chains; Dave Howell, principal deputy director of DOE Office of Manufacturing & Energy Supply Chains; and Gleb Yushin, Sila CTO and cofounder. (Sila Photo)

Sila’s plant will operate at a scale large enough to provide materials for automotive use and will have enough capacity to serve multiple customers, including Mercedes-Benz. The facility should start producing Sila’s Titan Silicon anode material by 2025. At full capacity, the plant is expected to produce enough material for 1 million cars.

“The technology has to scale massively so as not to become a niche,” said Gene Berdichevsky, Sila’s CEO and cofounder, in a statement.

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In addition to supporting the new facility, some of Sila’s grant will be invested in local workforce development via partnerships with Big Bend Community College and Columbia Basin Technical Skills Center. Over the next five years, the company expects to create between 100-to-500 full time jobs in the region.

Sila launched in 2011 and is based in Alameda, Calif. It has raised $930 million from investors.

Source: Geek Wire

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