Winning the Global Battery Arms Race Part 5: U.S. Production is Critical to National Security

Decorative

According to the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries, 2021–2030, maintaining and expanding lithium cell and battery manufacturing capability here in the U.S. is critical to our national security. That’s the focus of the fifth and final post in this series: Winning the Global Battery Arms Race. But before we start, let’s take a quick look back at the previous posts.

The first post looked at the Federal Consortium for Advanced Batteries (FCAB) Blueprint published in June 2021 and how several of the report’s mandates align closely with our strategic goals. The second post examines a method for U.S. leadership in advanced lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery development and production put forth by Dr. George Crabtree, Director, Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), Argonne National Laboratory, including a silicon-dominant anode battery that is capable of being ‘dropped in’ to the current Li-ion battery manufacturing process. Posts three and four describe our innovative 100% active silicon anode and equally innovative ‘drop-in’ production process, respectively.

Our proprietary 100% active silicon anode Li-ion battery aligns well with the FCAB Blueprint’s mandate to, “Promote the development of novel cell designs that reduce processing time, enable faster cell assembly, and decrease formation costs.” And our advanced battery production facility in Fremont, California aligns equally well with the Blueprint’s mandate to “Dedicate resources to expedite the scale-up and commercialization of novel technologies and manufacturing techniques.” Altogether our achievements in core technology, cell design, and manufacturing process development put us in great position to meet the U.S. Department of Defense’s preference for, “domestically sourced, high-density energy storage to support agile forces utilizing power-hungry propulsion, communications, sensors, and weapons,” as stated in the FCAB Blueprint.

The Blueprint amplifies what defense experts have been saying for several years. A November 2018 article in National Defense, “Offshore Battery Production Poses Prob­lems for Military,” states that although the U.S. Defense Department “is a relatively small consumer of lithium battery technologies when compared to the com­mercial market, the importance of these technologies cannot be understated,” and “without a domestic pro­duction capability, there are no assurances that a for­eign producer will even be willing to ship to the United States in times of conflict.” And a December 2019 report from The Institute for Defense Analyses, “Lithium Ion Battery Industrial Base in the U.S. and Abroad,” states that it is “desirable for U.S. industry to have more of a leadership role in the production of Li-ion batteries, especially next-generation batteries.”

To that end, on July 15, 2021, we announced a contract award with General Technical Services under DOTC-17–01-INIT1218 Advanced Power Systems Technologies of the Department of Defense to demonstrate safe and efficient advanced lithium-ion battery technology to the U.S. Army. The application for the Enovix batteries is the WarFighter centralized power source, used to power worn and carried equipment within the soldier ensemble. The announcement included the following statement from Cam Dales, Enovix general manager and chief commercial officer:

“President Biden’s recent executive order calls for a comprehensive review of U.S. supply chains to identify vulnerabilities and risks, and lithium-ion batteries are imperative to our military and national security. In addition to our demonstrated product performance and ability to manufacture at scale, we understand that the Department of Defense greatly values our ability to produce our advanced lithium-ion batteries in the U.S. in order to secure the supply chain for mission-critical power sources to power the most advanced defense force in history.”

Let’s wrap this series up where we started.

Over the past several years, reports by U.S. energy, economic, and defense experts state that it is strategically important for U.S. industry to have more of a leadership role in the development and production of Li-ion batteries, especially next-generation batteries. Despite the calls for action, on February 5, 2019, in written testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, Simon Moores, managing director at Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, said, “We are in the midst of a global battery arms race in which the U.S. is presently a bystander.”[1]

In June 2021, the FCAB published the National Blueprint for Lithium Batteries, 2021–2030. ­ It is intended to guide investments in the urgent development of a domestic lithium-battery manufacturing value chain. According to the blueprint, “The U.S. industrial base must be positioned to respond to this vast increase in market demand that otherwise will likely benefit well-resourced and supported competitors in Asia and Europe.”

A Strategy for U.S. Leadership in Advanced Lithium-ion Battery Development and Production
A Strategy for U.S. Leadership in Advanced Lithium-ion Battery Development and Production

Enovix is at the forefront of advanced Li-ion battery development and production with our 100% active silicon anode and ‘drop-in’ production process. Several of the major mandates of the National Blueprint align directly with the 3-phase strategy we published in March 2021. To learn more, read our white paper: A Strategy for U.S. Leadership in Advanced Lithium-ion Battery Development and Production.

[1] H. J. Mai, “To compete in the global battery arms race, the US must spur its domestic market, analysts say,” UtilityDive, June 24, 2019, https://www.utilitydive.com/news/creating-a-domestic-market-is-paramount-for-usbattery-industry-to-close-th/557339/, accessed June 9, 2020

Enovix, based in Fremont, California, is the first company capable of volume production of advanced Lithium-ion batteries with a 100% active silicon anode.