Addionics’ Moshiel Biton: ‘Battery price drops will be less than expected’

BY ROBERT MALTHOUSE

  • London and Tel Aviv-based Addionics recently closed a $27m funding round
  • CEO says company focuses on the physics of batteries, not the chemistry
  • Moshiel Biton argues analysts’ battery price projections are inaccurate

Moshiel Biton, CEO of battery storage technology company Addionics, is not afraid to stand out from the crowd.

Biton says that, unlike other companies that try to improve batteries by focussing on the chemistry, Addionics took a different path by focussing on the physics.

The company, which has 20 staff across operations in London and Tel Aviv, believes that taking this approach has given it an edge over its competitors. The company’s pitch to customers is that the focus on physics meant that its “smart 3D electrode solution enhances the capacity, power, safety, charging time, lifetime and cost of batteries of any chemistry – existing or emerging”.

Now investors are getting on board. At the end of last month, the company raised $27m in a Series A funding round led by Catalyst Fund, Deep Insight, Delek Motors and Dr. Boaz Schwartz. Additional investors included: Bridges Israel impact investment fund, Doral Renewables, Dr. David Deak, GiTV, JX Nippon Mining & Metals, Magna International, Novelis, Talcar Corporation, Union Tech Ventures and 8090 Partners. Existing investors that also participated in the round included: Magna Capital Partners, NextGear Ventures, and Vasuki Global Tech Fund.

Biton’s alternative approach is clearly beginning to pay off. And, in addition to running a company with a different strategy to some competitors, Biton also has alternative views on the wider market too. He disagrees with analysts who say that there will a major decrease in the cost of some batteries, instead arguing that price drops will be less than anticipated.

Energy Storage Report spoke to Biton about how the recent funding round will propel Addionics forward, how the company is improving battery performance, and what the obstacles are to the wider adoption of energy storage.

Addionics recently announced it had raised $27m in a series A funding round, how will this funding be used to further the company’s objectives?

Moshiel Biton: Most of the funds will be used for scaling up our activities in the factories to help build and commercialise our smart 3D electrodes. We’re also looking to expand the team and to hire new people in countries like Germany and the US, as well as bringing on more people in the UK and Israel. And this expansion is crucial for us so that we can better support and be closer to our clients that are based in countries where we do not yet have feet on the ground.

What makes Addionics stand out from its battery storage competitors?

MB: The goal is to be chemistry agnostic. Many other companies are providing solutions, but they are only suitable for one specific chemistry. We want to build a component that’s going to be relevant across many types of chemistries, formats, applications and dimensions. We also want to make our technology a ‘plug and play’ asset to limit the number of changes necessary in existing production lines, while also making it a cost-effective solution.

How is Addionics improving battery performance?

MB: The change in performance depends on the chemistry of the battery so I’ll give you an example. Take our latest findings with lithium iron phosphate, we’ve managed to reduce the internal resistance using 3D structures by more than 50%, whilst at the same time increasing the battery’s capacity. Of course, these are preliminary results, but it’s been repeated in many cells and we’re now on a mission to scale this up and validate these results in larger production. I think one of the most important aspects of these results though, is that these improvements are being made without negatively affecting other areas of performance. This includes minimising the power-to-energy trade off, as well as improving the safety all thanks to the unique structure.

What are currently the biggest opportunities for Addionics?

MB: Our main goal, of course, is to move towards commercialisation as fast as possible and continue to satisfy and have successful engagement with our clients. We’ve reached an important stage in our company where we now must prioritise and become more selective with who we work with. We’re really focussing on understanding the pain points and needs of the market, so that we can offer a product that is going to remove or mitigate these types of risks or pains.

What are the biggest challenges you face in the day-to-day running of your business?

MB: There are many challenges when running a company despite the congratulatory headlines you see in the media. On a technical side, when developing a novel technology, there are a list of unknowns when trying to validate the product at small scale before then manufacturing it at high volume. As a small start-up it’s also very important but challenging to educate the market and explain why you are going to provide something that opposes the status quo, and then be ready for questions like, well, ‘why hasn’t this been done before?’ Another challenge I know other battery component-makers also face, is the ability to be active within the market when you’re just bringing a high value component to the supply chain. To be a leader, you need a Gigafactory to produce the batteries yourself, which as a start-up you don’t have. So, it’s hard to manoeuvre the market without the bigger players replicating your product.

What do you think will be the emerging trends in the battery storage sector in the coming year?

MB: Overall, we’re going to see the continuous growth of this market. But in terms of individual batteries, I believe that we will see a larger variety of chemistries as we move towards diversification. I also believe the industry will become more open to adopting new technologies, and not just in the traditional innovation sense of battery chemistry, but in battery software and architecture. Recently, we’ve seen a large fluctuation in the prices of metal like lithium, but I think this will become more stable in the near future. I know some analysts are also predicting major price cost reductions in certain batteries, but I would have to disagree and say this drop will be less aggressive than expected. And the recycling of batteries is going to be huge too.

What are the biggest obstacles to the wider adoption of energy storage?

MB: I think in order to accelerate the trends I just mentioned, it’s crucial for us to look at the incentive from an economic point of view. We need to show why being ‘green’ is a financial benefit for companies and people, and not just a trend. And proving how you can earn money and/or save money by doing so, has been proven to be a clear motivating factor.

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