Umicore has announced its investment in Blue Current, a renowned manufacturer of silicon-rubber composite solid batteries, as part of its efforts to advance solid-state battery technology. This investment strengthens the existing collaboration between the two companies and increases Umicore’s minority stake in the American startup.
The investment builds upon a Joint Development Agreement (JDA) that integrates Umicore’s battery materials into Blue Current’s solid battery technology. Umicore aims to expand the market’s adoption of Blue Current’s unique silicon-rubber composite solid batteries by mid-decade by investing in and supplying advanced battery materials.
Blue Current, a chemical tech company, was initiated in the Lawrence Berkeley, Argonne national laboratories, along with UC Berkeley and the University of North Carolina. Since 2018, it has focused on silicon anodes with entirely dry composite electrolytes and has developed a strong intellectual property base in this field.
Over the past year, Umicore and Blue Current have collaborated to validate the compatibility of their respective solid battery technologies. The success of solid batteries relies on specially engineered active materials and solid electrolytes that work together, making this partnership crucial for the development of new generation materials.
Solid-state batteries have the potential to enable cycling of electrodes, and Blue Current’s composite solid electrolyte allows for durable cycling of silicon. These batteries, with composite electrolytes and silicon anodes, enable electric car designers to create smaller, lighter, less expensive, safer, and more energy-dense batteries at both the cell and system levels. This leads to increased electric vehicle range and faster recharging capabilities, which are highly significant for end-users.
Umicore’s roadmap for rechargeable battery materials includes research ambitions for short, medium, and long-term silicon-based cathodes and anodes, including those used in solid-state technologies. In addition to its own research and development, Umicore collaborates with third parties such as startups and academic organizations.
As a materials technology company, Umicore places innovation at the core of its success. It has expertise in the development of active cathodic materials, anodes, and catholytes for solid batteries, as reflected in various agreements with partners in the OEM, startup, and academic sectors. The company’s investments in Solid Power and the joint development with Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd highlight its commitment to advancing next-generation solid battery technology for electric vehicles.