Aggressive battery-electric-vehicle development and production plans are driving up the demand for battery material, and an under-the-radar startup is making moves to help fill the pipeline.
Ionic Mineral Technologies, a U.S. company founded in 2020 that says it is the only vertically integrated producer of nano-silicon material, plans to ramp up production to meet growing demand.
The Salt Lake City-based company predicts the market for nano-silicon, which can replace graphite in lithium-ion batteries, will rise significantly with next-generation batteries as automakers seek to increase range and shorten charging times.
Ionic MT says it controls the world’s largest deposit of high-purity halloysite, considered an ideal feedstock to manufacture nano-silicon at scale.
“Halloysite-derived nano-silicon is a game-changer for the industry,” says Andre Zeitoun, founder and CEO. “At Ionic Mineral Technologies, we are the first to leverage this vast natural resource for the electric-vehicle supply chain. With our approach, scalability is our advantage.”
Ionic MT notes its emergence on the scene is timely, coinciding with the Biden Admin.’s passage of the Inflation Reduction Act that provides incentives and tax credits around BEV and infrastructure development. Forecasts call for BEV sales to comprise more than half the global light-vehicle market by the end of the decade.
Ionic MT says it has a unique, patent-pending “top-down” manufacturing process that is easily scalable for high-volume production of nano-silicon. It plans to produce more than 3,000 tons of the material by the end of 2023, then scale to tens of thousands of tons as demand escalates.
The company currently is operating out of its initial pilot plant and lab space, which includes a full battery testing lab, wet beneficiation of halloysite and a pilot-scale silicon production furnace to convert halloysite into nano-silicon. Construction has begun on a new 36,000-sq.-ft. (3,345-sq.-m) facility in Provo, UT, and is expected to be completed in Q3 2023.