6K, specialised in the sustainable production of engineered materials for lithium-ion batteries and additive manufacturing produced from its UniMelt plasma technology, announced it has raised $102 million in its Series D funding first close. The round was led by Koch Strategic Platforms (“KSP”), a subsidiary of Koch Investments Group, an investment arm of Koch Industries, with participation by investors Energy Impact Partners, Albemarle, HG Ventures, as well as participation by 6K’s existing investors.
The Series D proceeds will fund production expansion for premium 3D metal powders in its 6K Additive division and accelerate the deployment of cathode production plants in its 6K Energy division.
“Lithium-ion battery markets will increase tenfold in the next decade, fuelled by growth in EVs, as well as supporting critical infrastructure for telecom back-up, data centers, and power plants. 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 Aaron Bent, PhD, CEO of 6K. “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. The investment from Koch Strategic Platforms not only brings the capital required to fuel our growth, but equally important, they bring unparalleled commitment and reach within the battery value chain.”
6K’s UniMelt system replaces a three-day, multi-step, high waste chemical co-precipitation (hydro-met) process with one that is ultra-clean and ultra-fast (as low as 2 seconds), powered by a 6000K microwave plasma. Compared to state-of-the-art CAM plants today, 6K uses half the footprint, substantially lower CapEx, and half the conversion costs or less. If deployed across the 400 GWh of announced capacity by 2025, implementing a 6K solution for 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 in 6K Additive’s 45 acre, ISO9001 certified facility.
“We have been following 6K Energy’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 for Koch Strategic Platforms. “They have created a transformative battery material production and recycling eco-system, delivering a versatile technology capable of full-scale production with various chemistries. This innovation will help realize advancements in energy transformation and the battery value chain.”
The $102 million raised is the first of two funding tranches for Series D, which is expected to reach $150 million in total. With an expected close in spring 2022, 6K will add a limited group of strategic investors. 6K is working with partners throughout the supply chain with the intent to build an end-to-end solution, including its partnership with Albemarle for the sustainable production of lithium products, and Heritage/Retriev for the production of cathode from end-of-life batteries. 6K is opening its $30M Battery Center of Excellence in August 2022 and working through site selection for its first 10-20 GWh cathode plant, with production launch in early 2024.