TexPower EV Technologies, Inc., a Houston battery technology startup company, celebrated the opening of their new state-of-the-art lab and 3 ton per year pilot production line on May 18th, 2023 in an event that involved several energy storage industry experts, investors, TexPower employees and members of the Houston community.
The event took place at TexPower’s campus, located in Northwest Houston and included tours of the facility, speeches, a ribbon cutting ceremony and networking. Speaking at the event were founders Prof. Arumugam Manthiram and CEO Dr. Evan M. Erickson, as well as Dr. Junzheng Chen the Advanced R&D Senior Director at 24M, a partner who has worked closely with TexPower building ultra-high energy, >500 Wh/kg, cells using TexPower’s cathode material for the Department of Defense. Additionally, from the University of Houston, Program Director of Startup Operations Darayle Canada and Prof. Yan Yao, also founder of battery startup LiBeyond, discussed Houston’s vibrant startup community and growing importance to the US battery industry.
TexPower is commercializing a cobalt-free lithium-ion cathode, lithium nickel manganese aluminum oxide (NMA), that is higher in energy than current commercial cathodes. TexPower’s NMA cathode works with existing lithium-ion battery components, is produced with standard manufacturing techniques, and costs less to produce, all without sacrifices to safety or other performance metrics. Cathodes are the most expensive component of a lithium-ion battery and present several other issues that plague the overall performance of the battery. High-energy commercial cathodes also contain a significant amount of cobalt that is sourced primarily from the Congo, often under poor working conditions, with more than 80% of cobalt sulfate produced by Chinese controlled interests. In addition to the cost, performance, and cobalt sourcing issues, over 90% of the overall global cathode production is concentrated in Asia; it is imperative for the US to invest in domestic production of Li-ion cathodes to enable a more secure supply chain.
Beyond enabling domestic research and development of NMA cathode, the 3 ton per year pilot production line will help demonstrate cobalt free NMA production at large scale. TexPower plans to use the gained knowledge from its 3 ton per year pilot line to build manufacturing facility capable of producing up to 50 times more the amount of cathode. The site for the manufacturing facility has already been identified inside TexPower’s NW Houston campus. The goal of the manufacturing facility will be to service markets such as defense, power tools, and eVTOL, which will make TexPower profitable. This facility will be directly downsized one tenth the scale for EV markets, so in 2024 TexPower will be well-positioned to pursue the aforementioned markets.
TexPower spun out of the University of Texas at Austin in 2019 from the lab of Prof. Arumugam Manthiram, a globally recognized lithium-ion battery cathode expert. In 2019, Prof. Manthiram gave the lecture for Prof. John Goodenough’s Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the invention of the lithium-ion battery. Partly due to this deep battery tradition, TexPower is one of a growing number of lithium-ion battery companies choosing Texas as its home. As the energy capital of the world, Houston is a natural location to base the battery industry, hosting a large, skilled chemical manufacturing workforce.