Li-ions with No Cobalt, Lower Cost, Higher Energy Density

June 23, 2018 by Paul Shepard

Volta Energy Technologies (Volta) announced that it is investing in Conamix, a technology startup based in Ithaca, New York. Conamix has developed a breakthrough material and process for creating low-cost, high-energy, and cobalt-free electrode materials for lithium-based batteries. Conamix's technology has the potential to dramatically decrease the cost of lithium-based batteries for use in many applications, including electric vehicles, grid storage, and even electric flight.

Conamix is Volta's second investment, following the company's inaugural investment in Ionic Materials, a promising technology company that has invented and is commercializing materials that enable safe, high-energy, solid-state batteries. The complementary investments add to Volta's growing portfolio of technologies and businesses that will enable the ubiquitous global adoption of electric vehicles and renewable power generation.

"Conamix is pleased to partner with Volta to accelerate our launch of the next generation electrode material for lithium ion batteries. We are focusing on new low-cost and high-energy materials that can drop into existing manufacturing systems for the global lithium ion battery market," said Conamix founder and CEO Charles Hamilton.

"Volta is a partner that brings a unique combination of technical and business expertise to Conamix. They have both the connections in the national lab system and the experience and judgement to help us tackle the right challenges on the way to launching a global product," added Hamilton.

While traditional venture capital funds often lack the technical expertise and patience required to advance innovations from lab to market, Volta brings deep experience in investing in entrepreneurial efforts and navigating the R&D capabilities of the national laboratory system. As Conamix develops its technology, the startup can benefit from Volta's partnership with Argonne National Laboratory.

"From the perspective of an organization that has catalyzed over 20 startups in this sector, NEXUS-NY is excited by Conamix's early accomplishments. We are confident, that with Volta's support, Conamix stands to make a profound impact on the battery industry. The special nature of Volta's model, which combines the infrastructure of the national lab system with the team's technical and investment expertise, greatly increases Conamix's probability of success," said Doug Buerkle, founding executive director of NEXUS-NY, the clean energy seed accelerator that has collaborated with Conamix since its inception.

Volta launched in December 2017 with a new model to identify and invest in breakthrough technologies that will impact a crowded energy storage market. In addition to the company's relationship with Argonne, Volta partners with strategic investors such as Exelon and Albemarle to maximize impact and returns in the opportunity-rich sector.

As an emerging startup, Conamix's next steps are critical to its long-lasting success, and Volta will provide Conamix with support and advice as the Conamix team works to achieve development and properly scale the technology during its challenging transition. Volta will serve on Conamix's Board of Directors and assist Conamix's leadership as it aims to decrease the cost of lithium-based batteries and make a profound impact on the battery market as a whole.

Volta CEO Jeff Chamberlain

"We are thrilled to welcome Conamix to Volta's portfolio of smart, sustainable technology investments," said Volta CEO Jeff Chamberlain. "Volta exists to identify and enable the development of technologies that could accelerate the ubiquitous adoption of both electric vehicles and renewable power generation, and, at the same time, change the game for our investors by meeting their strategic needs to usher in a new generation of energy storage technology.

"Volta is particularly excited about Conamix's potential to simultaneously reduce cost, increase energy, and eliminate the need for cobalt in lithium batteries," Chamberlain concluded.