Sepion Technologies is a startup working to commercialize Lithium-Metal Batteries (LMBs). Their technology will increase the safety, reliability and longevity of LMBs, facilitating faster-charging for new electric vehicles while also allowing them to go more miles between charges. To accelerate their scale up, Sepion leveraged a couple of programs in the Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) from the Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer Research (SBIR/STTR) program to the Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP). Sepion has now secured significant capital funding to manufacture new membrane technology that offers a 40% energy boost at a 15% lower cost over existing Lithium-Ion Batteries (LIBs).
Sepion Technologies was founded to commercialize a membrane innovation developed at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science Innovation Hub, the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research. After an initial proof-of-concept demonstration, Sepion secured early funding through AMMTO’s SBIR/STTR program and was awarded over the course of Phase I and II programs. AMMTO’s SBIR/STTR programs provide funding for small businesses developing new advanced technical innovations. The funding gives businesses the resources needed to scale up and reach the market at a faster rate, thus creating more job opportunities and enabling additional research and development.
With this funding, Sepion had the resources needed to de-risk product-market-fit, demonstrate the innovation at greater scale, and develop a model for mass manufacturing that justified continued product development. The key technical challenge in improving their performance, safety, and efficiency for LMBs is managing the efficient utilization and uniform electrodeposition of pure lithium metal. Sepion created a battery membrane and cell design that overcomes these challenges while making the manufacturing of LMBs more cost-effective, having direct impacts for consumers. This technology will be fully compatible with existing LIB manufacturing infrastructure to drastically de-risk supply chain challenges. It will also enable a rapid ramp-up and adoption of next-generation batteries for electric vehicles.
CEO and Co-founder, Peter Frischmann was also supported by Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory’s Cyclotron Road, part of AMMTO’s Lab-Embedded Entrepreneurship Program (LEEP). LEEP is a program dedicated to supporting the clean tech entrepreneurs to move research innovations from lab to market. Frischmann credits DOE as an essential partner helping the company get off the ground by de-risking the technology and supporting his growth as a leader, “Sepion got its start with an idea from Berkeley lab and DOE provided early funds and entrepreneurial coaching to help us take that idea out of the lab and into the world.” DOE’s SBIR/STTR program empowered Sepion Technologies to chart a commercial pathway for further lithium-metal battery development and validate their business model.
Sepion Technologies’ early success has unlocked additional capital from private investors including $16 million in Series A funding closed in 2021.These funds are supporting three key areas of activity:
- Delivering high quality samples and growing partnerships with Tier 1 automotive and battery cell manufacturers.
- Preparing to keep up with demand by building out a new facility with a five-fold larger footprint than the existing facility and purchasing equipment to build larger capacity membranes and batteries.
- Continuing to improve the performance of the battery cell and addressing technical challenges uncovered during scaling.
Developing commercially viable LMBs will unlock a new paradigm for the range and cost of electric vehicles, hastening consumer adoption and decarbonizing transportation for a clean energy future.
AMMTO's programs accelerate manufacturing innovation scale up for entrepreneurs.
The Advanced Materials and Manufacturing Technologies Office (AMMTO) supports the advancement of technologies to make the U.S. manufacturing sector more competitive and build a clean, decarbonized economy. AMMTO has three major program teams: next generation materials and processes, secure and sustainable materials, and energy technology manufacturing and workforce. These programs will meet our goals to manufacture clean energy technologies domestically, develop secure and sustainable supply chains, and support a skilled and inclusive manufacturing workforce.
Read more about AMMTO here.