June 16, 2023
iAccelerate startup Sicona raises $22 million for expansion
Battery technology company is commercialising UOW research, planning to expand in Australia and US
When one of the companies in the University of Wollongong’s (UOW) business incubator and accelerator iAccelerate has some good news to announce, they ring a bell and everyone in the building comes out to celebrate.
On Thursday (15 June 2023) Sicona Battery Technologies CEO and cofounder Christiaan Jordaan gave the bell a mighty ring to announce that the company had raised $22 million in Series A funding. The money will be used to further the company’s development plans both in Australia and the United States.
The $22 million investment was led by India’s Himadri Speciality Chemical Ltd, leading Australian venture capital investor Artesian, and Electrification & Decarbonization AIE LP, a fund managed by Waratah Capital. Riverstone Ventures, Chaos Ventures, Investible Climate Tech Fund LP and Club Investible also participated in the funding round.
Sicona develops low cost, scalable next-generation battery materials technology used in lithium-ion (“Li-ion”) batteries that enable electric-mobility and storage of renewable energy.
It is commercialising a discovery by UOW electromaterials researchers who developed a new form of highly conductive and processable graphene.
Sicona’s current generation silicon-composite anode technology delivers a remarkable 50-100 per cent higher capacity than conventional graphite anodes and its anode materials can deliver more than 50 per cent higher cell energy density than current Li-ion batteries.
The company, which has its headquarters and pilot plant based in Wollongong, is advancing engineering studies, site selection and customer qualification for a 20ktpa (~200 GWh) silicon-carbon production plant starting with 5kpta (~50 GWh) in phase 1. This commercial scale plant will be built in the south eastern United States to serve customers in the US market with Inflation Reduction Act compliant materials supply. Funds raised in this round will provide significant growth capacity in the US over 2023-24 where demand for anode materials is estimated to exceed 1,200GWh by 2030.
“Sicona’s core product is an innovative silicon metal based silicon-composite battery anode technology enabling more than 50% increase in energy density of existing Li-ion batteries,” Mr Jordaan said.
“By using silicon metal (and not expensive, supply chain constrained and dangerous silane gas like our competitors) Sicona can offer low-cost silicon anode materials at large automotive scale locally in major markets.
“Welcoming one of the leading global speciality chemical companies as a strategic investor in our Series A round allows us to accelerate our mission of becoming a major producer of cost-effective silicon composite anode materials. Himadri has a multi-decade track record of manufacturing materials at scale and their expertise and inputs will be a major asset to us in the next phases of our growth plans.
“Our silicon metal-based technology decouples us from the major bottlenecks and cost implications of silane gas-based technologies and provides our customers the confidence that we can deliver a silicon-carbon anode material at a capital intensity and $/kg price which is feasible for mass-automotive market adoption.”
In announcing their investment in Sicona to the National Stock Exchange of India, Himadri Speciality Chemical Ltd chairman and managing director Anurag Choudhary said Sicona was a “strategic fit” for his company.
“We are delighted to make this investment in Sicona. Sicona’s ground-breaking research and cost-effective and highly scalable approach to silicon anode manufacturing perfectly complements our strategic objectives,” Mr Choudhary said.
"We are extremely confident of Sicona’s team and technology and its ability to consistently innovate in the rapidly evolving battery technology landscape.”
Mr Jordaan said Sicona’s mission was clear.
“Our mission is to deliver enabling technologies that persistently tear up the envelope on battery and battery materials performance and innovation,” he said.
“Producing best in class materials in a scalable, cost-effective way to power a sustainable future.”
Sicona Battery Technologies CEO and cofounder Christiaan Jordaan celebrates a successful fund-raising round with Sicona staff at iAccelerate.
United Nations Sustainable Development Goals
The University of Wollongong is committed to working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which provide a shared blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for everyone. The commercialisation of UOW battery technology research by Sicona addresses Goal 7, Affordable and Clean Energy, and Goal 9, Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure.
UOW ranked 61st in the world in the 2023 Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which assess universities against the UN Sustainable Development Goals.