Silatronix Gets $8M Jolt From Japanese Investors For Battery Tech

Silatronix, a Madison, WI-based developer of silicon-based materials that can be used as electrolytes in batteries and other energy storage devices, has raised $8 million from investors, the company said in a press release.

Participants in the equity funding round included Hitachi Chemical and Inabata, both of Japan, and previous investors, Silatronix said. Inabata will serve as an exclusive distributor to certain customers in Asia, according to the release.

The materials Silatronix makes, which are partially made of organosilicon (OS) compounds containing carbon-silicon bonds, can function as electrolytes in lithium-ion batteries. Those are used in everything from phones and tablets to electric vehicles.

The global market for lithium-ion batteries is projected to eclipse $30 billion a year by 2020, according to a report by Taiyou Research. By that time, the market for electrolytes used in batteries is expected to reach at least $1.1 billion, according to Silatronix’s website. Increased production of electric vehicles by automakers like Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) and General Motors (NYSE: GM) have contributed to the rapid growth in advanced battery technologies.

The new money will help support efforts to commercialize Silatronix’s first product, known as OS3, a solvent that the company said can improve the performance of lithium-ion batteries.

“The path to large-scale commercialization at Silatronix is increasingly visible,” said Mark Zager, CEO of Silatronix, in a prepared statement. “We are helping the market develop batteries with improved safety, performance, and stability.”

In lithium-ion battery electrolytes, OS3 impedes the breakdown of a white crystalline powder called LiPF6, and is “thermally and electrochemically stable,” Silatronix said in the release.

As it prepares to shift its focus from research and development to sales, Silatronix is forging relationships with suppliers and working with some of its backers, like Hitachi Chemical, to evaluate the potential benefits of combining products made by the companies.

Silatronix said it will also use some of the new money to expand its research facilities in Madison, and to add staff. Last month, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that Silatronix had 16 employees and was on the verge of hiring another six or so. According to its website, the positions it’s looking to fill include electrolyte scientist and laboratory technician.

Among the groups that have invested in Silatronix previously are Venture Investors, the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and Foley Ventures.

Jeff Buchanan is the editor of Xconomy Wisconsin. Email: jbuchanan@xconomy.com Follow @_jeffbuchanan

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