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Battery Design Scalable Silicon Solutions for Battery Optimization Startup, Advano, announcing $18.5 Million in Series A funding

From Emmanuel Odunlade

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New Orleans-based Avando has created a scalable, affordable solution to improve the battery life of today's rechargeable batteries. The American startup just announced a $18.5 million Series A funding round.

Founded in 2016, and 2017 graduate of Y Combinator, Advano is a New Orleans-based company delivering a scalable solution for lithium-ion batteries with higher energy density.
Founded in 2016, and 2017 graduate of Y Combinator, Advano is a New Orleans-based company delivering a scalable solution for lithium-ion batteries with higher energy density.
(Source: Advano)

With the success of several new technology paradigms hinging on advancement in battery technology, funding is becoming widely available as investors continue to scramble to get a piece of some of the most innovative Battery-Tech startups. Several Startups have benefitted from the scramble, raising huge amounts of money to further research and development. Advano, a startup creating rechargeable batteries with improved battery life and supply chain application, recently became a beneficiary, as they emerged from stealth to close an $18.5 million Series A funding round.

Founded by Alexander Girau in 2016, Advano's goal like most battery-tech startups is to increase the capacity of batteries while driving down their cost. Their approach to achieving this has been through the development of high performance and scalable battery materials, a category which their product; A-SiFx, falls into.

Scalable silicon solution increasing Lithium-ion batteries' energy density

A-SiFx is a scalable silicon solution capable of increasing the energy density of Lithium-ion batteries. Typical Lithium-ion batteries comprise of anodes made from graphite, which have a high gravimetric energy density (resulting in large batteries) and are quite expensive (drives up the overall cost of the battery). With the A-SiFx, Advano is leading the replacement of the graphite anodes with silicon which offers up to 40 percent improvement in gravimetric energy density and as much as 210 percent improvement in cost over graphite

Graphite vs. Silicon

Advano is not the only company trying to replace graphite with silicon. Silicon's underlying chemistry presents "Rubik's Cube"-like challenges that have limited the success of most companies' efforts.

Advano's been able to take a holistic approach that addresses all the interrelated and competing issues using surface functionalization technology. The heavily patented technology allows the alteration of silicon's properties at the surface where it meets electrolyte and Lithium, influencing the interaction with the other materials in the anode. This also optimizes the performance in the cell in ways that were previously cost-prohibitive. Avando's approach allows battery and materials companies across different sectors to integrate A-SiFx™ into their existing supply chains to deliver safe, reliable, and scalable technology.

A-SiFx™ developed from upcycles scrap

Asides the high performance in batteries, another advantage of A-SiFx™ is that it's developed from upcycled scrap, silicon waste from semiconductor or solar panel manufacturing. This gives Advano the ability to avoid the toxic silicon manufacturing process and contribute to a reduction in e-wastes, protecting both its engineers and the environment.

Avando's Series A round was co-led by Mitsui Kinzoku (SBI Material Innovation Fund) and two investment firms, Tony Fadell's Future Shape and PeopleFund. Japanese Mitsui Kinzoku will, however, support Avandoin more ways than financially. The two companies have agreed to cooperate in ways that give Avando access to Mitsui Kinzoku's manufacturing expertise and its vast distribution channels across multiple industries. Other investors in Avando's first funding round include Peter Thiel's, Thiel Capital, DCVC, and Y Combinator.

Tony Fadell: "Advano's innovative work with silicon is the holy grail for batteries"

Advano also announced three key personnel additions. Dr. John S. Foster, a former faculty member in Applied Physics at Stanford, who recently relocated to New Orleans, will serve as President and Chief Operating Officer of Advano. In 2011, Foster co-founded Owl Biomedical, Inc., a microchip-based cell therapy company, which he led as Chairman and CEO through its acquisition by global biotech company Miltenyi Biotec. Foster also brings to Advano extensive board and leadership experience from past executive positions at IBM, Innovative Micro Technology, and Applied Magnetics Corporation. Substantively, Foster's experience at all three companies involved MEMS and microchip manufacturing, and IMT was the largest MEMS foundry in the United States.

Tony Fadell said in a press release: "Adding silicon to li-ion batteries can 10x their run-time. Imagine eliminating 'range anxiety': more EVs, less CO2. But no one has been able to solve four key issues concurrently: material expansion, cycle-life, cost, and drop-in manufacturing scalability. Advano's battery experts are the first to successfully tackle them all."

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