Members of the Echion team

Cambridge spinout, Echion Technologies has raised £29 million in investment capital to help it increase the production of its fast-charging, long-life battery material based on niobium.

Echion, a Cambridge University spinout headquartered just outside the city, has invented and patented a niobium-based anode material, XNO®, for use with re-chargeable lithium-ion batteries. The material enables the lithium-ion batteries to safely charge in less than ten minutes, last for more than 10,000 cycles and not lose power in extreme cold or hot temperatures.  

By improving the power density and thermal stability of lithium-ion batteries, XNO® extends their lifespan. Batteries using XNO®  have been shown to have a lower environmental impact than those based on other commonly used materials such as graphite. Graphite is the dominant anode material, with over 90% market share, due to its high energy density and low cost. But for fast charging, graphite-based cells are limited in maximum charge rate compared to XNO® based cells. XNO®’s higher capacity retention and cycle life when charging, across a wider temperature range, boosts available battery capacity. Despite the same volume and weight, higher total energy delivered across the lifetime of the battery lowers total cost of ownership.

The £29 million investment will mean Echion’s XNO® anode material can start to be used in real-world applications, such as battery electric and hybrid trains, mining haul trucks, opportunity-charging e-buses, heavy-duty industrial transport and delivery vehicles.

Echion’s longstanding partnership with the world’s leading producer of niobium, CBMM, will see the opening of a 2,000 tonne per year XNO® manufacturing facility in 2024. This will provide Echion with the manufacturing capacity to supply its global customer base of major cell manufacturers and original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

The investment round was led by specialist battery and energy storage technology investor Volta Energy Technologies (Volta), with participation from existing investors CBMM, BGF and Cambridge Enterprise Ventures.

Jean de La Verpilliere, CEO of Echion Technologies, said: “Our ambition is to deliver the best fast-charging batteries to unlock the electrification of heavy-duty vehicles. The investment from our partners Volta Energy Technologies, CBMM, BGF and Cambridge Enterprise Ventures cements our ambition to achieve full-scale commercialisation and full production volume.

“The entire Echion team has worked tirelessly to develop our flagship XNO® material into what it is today and this has enabled us to establish partnerships with many major OEMs and cell manufacturers which have recognised the benefits of our materials. I look forward to being able to satisfy their demand for innovative niobium-based anode materials, and to see industrial and commercial applications powered by XNO®.”

Dr Jeff Chamberlain, CEO and Founder of Volta Energy Technologies, said: “We are excited to lead Echion’s Series B and make Volta’s first investment in Europe. Echion and their XNO® technology complements our growing portfolio of technologies that address significant market needs through innovations in the supply chains of battery and energy storage technology. We believe the power of XNO® can uniquely improve performance, lower cost, and meet the demands of the growing, international markets across mining, logistics, railways, automotive and more.”

Rodrigo Barjas Amado, Managing Partner and Commercial Head of Battery Program at CBMM, said: “Having invested in Echion since 2021, we are pleased to see the progress that has been made through our partnership so far and we are proud to support bringing this ground-breaking, niobium-based technology to the market with our 2,000 tonne per year manufacturing capacity.”

Dennis Atkinson, Investor at BGF, said: “Echion is a world class UK based battery technology business. We are proud to have them as part of our climate and deeptech portfolio, and excited to support the team and their XNO® technology in electrifying and decarbonising heavy transport.”

"Echion is entering the market with their next generation battery material at scale. This is a great team that has combined great technology, great talent, great partners and great money for their go-to-market journey. We’re pleased to have been with Echion from the start and to continue our relationship into this B round with a terrific syndicate of co-investors,” says Chris Gibbs, Investment Director, Cambridge Enterprise Ventures.

Adapted from media release published by Cambridge Enterprise.

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