Na & Li Technology, a Chinese startup specializing in cathodes for solid-state batteries, announced in late April that it has completed the seed funding round and secured tens of millions of yuan from angel investors. The amount raised from the seed funding round is going to be used to build a pilot production line, procure raw materials, and recruit more talents. The angel investors included Canmax, Soochow Investment, and Casstar.
Also, Na & Li Technology’s pilot production line is reported to have already entered operation. The pilot production line has a production capacity of 200 tons per year for high-nickel cathode materials. The startup is now planning to set up another fully scaled-up production line for its first-phase capacity expansion. The fully scaled-up production line is expected to have a production capacity of 5,000 tons per year. At the same time, the startup has launched its pre-A funding round. For this fundraising round, InStars will serve as the sole long-term financial advisor.
Na & Li Technology was established in April 2022. The startup was first incubated in the Tianmu Lake Institute of Advanced Energy Storage Technologies, which is a joint venture of the Institute of Physics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Jiangsu Zhongguancun Science and Technology Industrial Park Venture Capital. The mission of the Tianmu Lake Institute was engage in the R&D and commercialization of the most cutting-edge energy storage technologies.
Na & Li Technology aims to provide stable and technologically mature cathodes for batteries that are fully or partially solid state. Its product series include ones that are high or “ultrahigh” in nickel content. Additionally, Na & Li Technology has laid out plans for offering cathodes that are high in lithium and manganese content and developing low-cost process technologies.
The core technology of the startup is a nanoscale coating for the solid-state electrolyte. Within a certain temperature range, the coating becomes a molten salt that allows for a continuous coating process. This technology is applicable for both all-solid-state and semi-solid-state batteries as well as batteries with a liquid electrolyte and a high-nickel cathode.
According to the company’s own information, Na & Li Technology’s first-generation products show that the company’s coating process uses less liquid compared with the mainstream coating processes for high-nickel batteries. Besides being suitable for the manufacturing of all-solid-state and semi-solid-state batteries, the company’s coating process has also been certified for the manufacturing of ternary batteries with a liquid electrolyte. Additionally, this coating process can raise the temperature at which structural decomposition occurs by 5%. This translates to a significant improvement in product safety.
With respect to commercialization, Na & Li Technology is currently collaborating with companies involved in the manufacturing of semi-solid-state batteries and large cylindrical batteries so as to extend its presence across the industry chain and encourage the adoption of its products.
Dr. Ren Yu at Na & Li Technology said that following the completion of the pilot production line, the company’s next main objective is to use the nanoscale technology to produce its first high-nickel cathode for all-solid-state batteries. Apart from this, the company will also be fulfilling some existing orders with its pilot production line. After achieving volume production, Na & Li Technology will form and expand partnerships with suppliers for NEV power batteries. The company aims to deliver product samples to two to three power battery suppliers for testing and qualification.
The pilot production line will be initially used to make batteries for smartphones, various consumer electronics, power tools, and light electric vehicles. Normally, a supplier for NEV power batteries will take 18 to 24 months to qualify a material or component. Na & Li Technology will strive to cooperate with downstream customers in order to get its products adopted as quickly as possible. Once its products passed the qualification process, the company will be able to expand its production capacity.
This article is a translation of a Chinese article posted by TrendForce. It contains information that is either sourced from Na & Li Technology or accessible in the public domain. Some Chinese names are transcribed into English using Hanyu Pinyin.