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January 24, 2023 | Shannon Smith

Lithium-ion battery safety technology company Safire expands to Knoxville

The Virginia-based company is working to commercialize ORNL technology. They're moving research and development to Knoxville to accomplish that goal.

Safire Technology Group, a venture-backed company developing and manufacturing Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery safety technology, announced its expansion to Knoxville, with the opening of a new laboratory at the University of Tennessee’s Spark Innovation Center.

The laboratory will support the continued growth of the company, housing Safire Group’s research and development (R&D) division and allowing the company to continue innovating its patented SAFe Impact Resistant Electrolyte (SAFIRE™) additive for Li-ion batteries, which was invented at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

This technology is the world’s first patented and proprietary drop-in additive for Li-ion batteries that prevents fire and explosion through an instantaneous liquid-to-solid transformation upon kinetic impacts, such as electric vehicle (EV) or eBike crashes. The additive provides a safe, easily integrated solution for EVs and other Li-ion-powered equipment, resulting in increased safety and stability, higher performance, and projectile and ballistic protection.

“The new laboratory, with its close proximity to ORNL and the University of Tennessee, offers a world-class pipeline of talented scientists and engineers,” said John Lee, Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Safire Group. “The Knoxville area represents an attractive choice to expand our battery R&D capabilities and hire highly qualified talent from the community.”

Safire and ORNL announced an exclusive licensing agreement for the technology in 2022, and Safire is now working to get the technology to commercialization.

“The Knoxville Chamber is committed to supporting innovative entrepreneurs that are creating high-wage, high-growth companies,” said Doug Lawyer, Vice President of Economic Development for the Chamber. “This announcement directly aligns with the Chamber’s efforts to transition Knoxville’s economy. Safire Group is doing a great job of capitalizing on multiple regional assets, including ORNL and Spark Innovation Center. We are excited to see them attracting new talent from out-of-state and retaining local talent through internships.”

Lee said the Safire team will soon be hiring for managerial and engineering roles as it grows its presence in Knoxville.