ION Storage Systems receives $20M ARPA-E SCALE UP award

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The U.S. Secretary of Energy (DOE) announced the 2023 recipients of the ARPA-E program Seeding Critical Advances for Leading Energy technologies with Untapped Potential (SCALEUP). ION Storage Systems (ION), a University of Maryland (UMD) startup, is the latest recipient of a $20M SCALEUP award. In the DOE press release, Secretary Granholm noted, “By catalyzing the commercialization of promising technologies, we are empowering the private sector to go all in to boost American manufacturing, strengthen national security and ensure our competitive edge.” (See the full announcement from Secretary Granholm)

The SCALEUP program provides major new funding to previous ARPA-E awardees that have successfully de-risked their technology and established a viable route to commercial deployment.  

ION is commercializing next-generation, high power-density, solid-state lithium metal batteries, based on ceramic electrolyte manufacturing for large-scale, low-cost battery production. The battery’s 3D ceramic solid-state electrolyte architecture is nonflammable, making it intrinsically safer to use and store and works with a multitude of cathode chemistries and cell configurations. A key feature is there is no change in volume during cycling, resulting in simpler module packaging and higher pack level density. ION will mature the design and manufacturing processes toward deployment in the electric vehicle (EV) market with expansion opportunities into consumer electronics and defense applications. ION’s approach has the potential to reduce battery manufacturing greenhouse gas emissions by 50% per kilowatt-hour. 

ION Press Release Link

ION founder and Director of the Maryland Energy Innovation Institute (MEI2), Dr. Eric Wachsman noted, “It’s been quite the journey since the initial ARPA-E seedling award enabled the demonstration of my 3D ceramic architecture concept and the opportunity for multiple other funding awards to advance the technology, to now the ultimate award SCALEUP that transitions the technology toward commercial readiness with major manufacturing partners such as Saint-Gobain and KLA.” 

Prior to the SCALEUP award, ION recently announced its solid-state battery pilot production line, the first in Maryland. They have also demonstrated their anode-less and compression-less solid-state battery (SSB) achieved a key customer threshold for its first market deployment, 125 cycles with less than 5% capacity degradation in performance and is now approaching EV market criteria of more than 1000 cycles.

Additionally, UMD and its partner companies have now received 50 ARPA-E awards for ~$160M since the program’s inception in 2009. Moreover, since the SCALEUP program started in 2019 only UMD, MIT, and Stanford related teams have received multiple SCALEUP awards with ION and UMD start-up InventWood both receiving the maximum $20M award tying MIT for most SCALEUP award funding.

Published June 26, 2024