Sila, one of a wave of young companies trying to pack more power into batteries, will open its first stand-alone factory in a small city in central Washington state, as the U.S. tries to build up its own energy-storage supply chain and expand the production of electric vehicles.
Sila has purchased a facility in Moses Lake to make its silicon-based anode material, which the company says can boost the energy density of lithium-ion batteries by 20%. While not releasing full financial details, Chief Executive Officer Gene Berdichevsky said buying and equipping the building for the first phase of production will cost “$100-plus million,” with full operation expected in the first half of 2025. Until now Sila has made its material, which can replace graphite in battery anodes, at its headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area.
President Joe Biden has made ramping up U.S. battery manufacturing a pillar of his efforts to fight climate change, and battery makers are planning plants across the country. Berdichevsky said Sila isn’t receiving any federal help for the new factory’s initial phase of production, projected to make enough anode material for 100,000 to 500,000 electric cars per year, depending on whether the substance completely or partially replaces the graphite in their batteries. The company has announced partnerships with Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) and Mercedes-Benz Group AG.
But the facility could be expanded to supply as many as 10 million cars per year, and Sila may seek federal funding for expansion, Berdichevsky said. As the global battery industry booms, more of it can and should be based in the U.S., he said.
“You either get behind it,” Berdichevsky said, “or you get left behind.”
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