Sparkz, a battery startup with exclusive licenses from Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to produce domestic cobalt-free lithium batteries (earlier post), will begin construction in 2022 of a Gigafactory in West Virginia to commercialize its zero-cobalt battery.
Sparkz will focus on creating a strong and diverse workforce capable of competing against batteries made in China and securing the supply chain. Sparkz and the United Mine Workers of America will partner to recruit and train dislocated miners to be the first group of production workers to be hired into the facility. This program is a key part of the UMWA’s Energy Transition Principles announced last spring.
Sparkz was founded in late 2019. In October 2021, the startup won a grant for $2.6 million from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to extend its development into solid-state batteries. CEC funded the full amount possible for the first phase of the grant and will help SPARKZ bridge the gap from their previous public funding awards to private investment. (Earlier post.)
In January 2022, Sparkz announced its was opening a pilot facility in Livermore, CA to begin development, scale-up and pilot-scale manufacturing of its patented solid state battery technology. The company’s move was spurred by continued support from the California Energy Commission as Sparkz begins the steps to shift a second product line from development to commercialization.
Sparkz already has an R&D and Innovation Center in Knoxville, TN where it is conducting development and scale-up of lithium batteries based on zero Cobalt cathodes.
Sparkz says that its cobalt-free battery offers 2X the energy density compared to other cobalt-free batteries (e.g., Lithium Iron Phosphate or LFP) being produced predominantly in China.