6K, a producer of engineered materials for lithium-ion batteries, has raised $102 million in the first of two Series D funding tranches. The round was led by Koch Strategic Platforms, an investment arm of fossil fuel giant Koch Industries, with participation by investors Energy Impact Partners, Albemarle, HG Ventures and others.
6K will use the new cash to expand production of premium 3D metal powders in its 6K Additive division and to accelerate the deployment of cathode production plants in its 6K Energy division.
6K is working with partners throughout the battery supply chain to build an “end-to-end solution,” collaborating with Albemarle for the sustainable production of lithium products, and Heritage/Retriev for the production of cathode from end-of-life batteries. 6K will open its Battery Center of Excellence in August 2022, and is working through site selection for a 10-20 GWh cathode plant that is to begin production in early 2024.
6K’s proprietary UniMelt system is a microwave plasma process that produces materials used in batteries and other industrial markets, and is designed to be fast and environmentally friendly. According to the company, the UniMelt process replaces a three-day, multi-step, high-waste chemical co-precipitation (hydro-met) process with one that is ultra-clean and ultra-fast.
6K says implementing its solution for the production of NMC811 has the potential to save billions of dollars and eliminate solid and liquid hazardous waste while reducing water usage by 90% and energy usage up to 70%. The UniMelt systems are already deployed in 24/7 high-volume production at 6K Additive’s 45-acre, ISO9001-certified facility.
“Lithium-ion battery markets will increase tenfold in the next decade. The fact that there is no lithium-ion battery material production on US soil is a concern for both national security and for the industries that are relying on these critical materials,” said CEO Aaron Bent. “6K is the only company capable of battery material production at costs lower than Asia, while also reducing impact on the environment by 70-90%. Disruptive approaches such as this are the only viable way to repatriate this industry.”
“We have been following 6K’s progress since inception and have found that 6K’s UniMelt plasma technology delivers a competitive production process built on US soil,” said Jeremy Bezdek, Managing Director of Koch Strategic Platforms. “They have created a transformative battery material production and recycling ecosystem, delivering a versatile technology capable of full-scale production with various chemistries.”