Amprius raises $25M for next-gen batteries

Faith Merino · March 3, 2011 · Short URL:

The company gets support from IPV, Kleiner Perkins, and Qian Neng for its lithium ion batteries


Lithium ion battery developer Amprius on Thursday announced that it has secured a $25 million round of funding led by  IPV Capital, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, and Qian Neng Fund, along with existing investors Trident Capital, VantagePoint Venture Partners, Eric Schmidt, and Stanford University. The funds will be used to help Amprius on its way to commercializing next-generation, high-energy lithium ion batteries.

Founded in 2008 by Dr. Yi Cui of Stanford University, the company takes a different approach to the lithium ion batteries used in products ranging from electric drills and laptops to electric vehicles. While most battery developers have traditionally focused on battery power (i.e. getting your electric vehicle to accelerate faster), Amprius has focused on developing high energy density batteries that last longer (i.e. batteries that allow your electric vehicle to go farther).

Amprius declined to comment specifically on how the funds will be used, but Dr. Kang Sun, CEO of Amprius, said in a prepared statement that the new funds will allow the company to launch its first commercial product, as well as strengthen its manufacturing process and build up its global presence. 

Little information has been released about the mystery product, but the company has said that the product will produce a battery with 40% more energy density than the lithium ion batteries currently available. The key to Amprius' longer lasting batteries lies in its use of silicon instead of the traditional carbon. The typical lithium ion battery consists of two sides that can hold charge, the anode and the cathode. Amprius has developed an alternative anode using silicon nanowires, which can hold more than 10 times the amount of lithium than a traditional carbon-based anode can hold.

The company predicts that in the future, lithium ion batteries using this alternative anode will be capable of holding 200 times more lithium than they do now. 

Last September, another developer of next-generation lithium ion batteries, Sakti3, raised $4.2 million from  General Motors Ventures and Itochu Technology Ventures. Sakti3's batteries replace the standard liquid electrolyte and electrodes with solids, which have the potential of doubling energy density and allowing for smaller, lighter batteries that give vehicles greater range.

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