SPARKZ receives $5 million grant from California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development

SPARKZ Inc., the electric vehicle-focused (EV) battery company with a significant presence in West Knoxville, has received a $5 million from the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to establish a manufacturing facility in the Central Valley region of the state.

According to the GO-Biz news release, the funding is part of $120 million in “California Competes” grant awards that are projected to create more than 7,615 new, full-time jobs in California and bring more than $3.3 billion in new investments to the state over the next five years.

SPARKZ, a licensee of technologies from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), will use the funding as part of its plans to build one of its gigafactories that will produce cobalt-free, lithium-ion batteries. GO-Biz’s news release said its funding, combined with other investments, is expected to create over 800 new, full-time jobs. By removing cobalt from the formula, these batteries will be less expensive to manufacture, easier to recycle, and better for the environment.

“SPARKZ is re-engineering the battery supply chain by eliminating cobalt and setting our sights on making high-performing, sustainable EV batteries in America,” said Sanjiv Malhotra, the start-up’s Founder and Chief Executive Officer. “The support of Governor Newsom through this GO-Biz California Competes grant will allow our company the ability to hire Californians, build our manufacturing facility and play a role in solving the climate crisis, America’s clean energy future will reach its potential when we innovate and manufacture the next generation of energy storage domestically and California is leading that effort.”

We posted our first article more than two years ago when ORNL announced SPARKZ that the start-up had exclusively licensed five battery technologies in areas like cathode materials, a novel electrolyte formula and a scaling process that will together enable industrial scale production of more sustainable, fast-charging cobalt-free batteries.

Nearly a year later, SPARKZ exclusively licensed ORNL’s fast formation cycling technology that is designed to enable the rapid production of lithium-ion batteries commonly used in portable electronic devices and electric vehicles. Shortly thereafter, we spotlighted Malhotra and his plans in this article.

The latest funding from the State of California is at least the second grant SPARKZ has received. Last fall, the California Energy Commission made an award of $2.6 million to extend the company’s development into solid-state batteries. Also, nearly a year ago, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded SPARKZ $1.2 million for a project titled “Continuous Stirred Tank Reactors for The Scale Up of High Energy Density Cobalt-Free Cathodes for Advanced Lithium ion Batteries.”

Earlier this month, Malhotra provided the keynote address at the “Global EV Battery Innovations Conference” (see article here) where he discussed the start-up’s growing stockpile of purchase orders, its new lab facility in West Knoxville, and plans to open a gigafactory in West Virginia. He told us in an email over the weekend that that SPARKZ plans to open both facilities.

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