Porsche Invests Millions in American Battery Company

While “Dieselgate” is firmly in the past of Volkswagen Group, all of its brands remain highly committed to an all-electric future. On May 4, Porsche purchased $100 million worth of shares in Group 14 Technologies, a company that is focused on silicon-carbon anode lithium-ion batteries that look to replace the graphite anode like those used on the 2022 Porsche Taycan. The investment makes Porsche a lead investor in the company, and was a major part of a $400 million funding round between several investors.

Taking the Lead

The goal is to take the silicon-carbon composite anode (battery positive) technology—which Group 14 calls SCC55—and apply it to existing lithium-ion batteries, which will improve charge time, lifecycle, and even weight over the current graphite anode used in nearly every li-ion battery manufactured today.

This $400 million funding round will allow Group 14 to open a second battery active materials (BAM) facility in the U.S. The new facility, along with a joint-venture facility with SK Group in South Korea, will help Group 14 to supply this new anode composite globally in partnership with Cellforce Group, a li-ion battery manufacturer that Porsche has a majority stake in. According to Porsche, “From 2024, in Germany, the joint venture intends to produce self-developed high-performance battery cells with silicon anodes for small series production, motorsport and high-performance vehicles. The Cellforce battery cells are expected to be used in electrically powered Porsche vehicles with high-performance powertrains.”

Why Silicon-Carbon Anodes?

According to Group 14, using even a 20 percent blend of traditional graphite and its SCC55 to create a lithium-ion battery’s anode can improve lifecycle energy density by 30 percent, while a full blend of the silicon-carbon composite improves it by as much as 50 percent. Using carbon in the blend also makes it retain its energy density for much longer, and much higher overall, than silicon-oxide. Group 14’s claims have apparently been proven by third-party data from Farasis Energy, a battery manufacturer that makes pouch cells for Daimler and Geely.

Both Porsche and Group 14 claim that using a silicon-carbon anode would result in a lighter weight battery than a graphite anode, but we couldn’t find any hard numbers to show that. Regardless, any weight reduction would be significant as the graphite used in a lithium-ion battery equates to roughly 20 percent of its total weight. The other important factor is that SCC55 wouldn’t require retooling to create the anode composite, it’s simply changing from graphite to Group 14’s blend. The silicon portion of the blend is also more abundant than graphite while also having 10 times the energy capacity. This means no additional cost to convert from graphite—which is a crystalline form of carbon—to silicon-carbon.

If Group 14’s claims hold water as it switches to larger production of the silicon-carbon composite anode, we’ll not only see an increase in energy density, much longer life, and lighter weight cells without an increase in cost of a traditional lithium-ion battery.

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