Battery electrolyte firm South 8 Technologies raises US$12m to fund commercialisation

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Lithium electrolyte provider South 8 Technologies has raised US$12 million in Series A financing to commercialise its liquefied gas electrolyte technology.

South 8 claims its electrolytes offer a unique approach to address shortcomings in more prevalent electrolytes on the market today. The technology uses solvents that are normally gaseous at room temperature and under standard pressures but can be liquefied to be used as an electrolyte.

This, South 8 says, poses benefits for batteries, including increased safety through a reduced risk of thermal runaway, an enhanced degree of material compatibility among cell components and cheaper costs.

Cyrus Rustomji, CEO at South 8 Technologies, said the company’s approach offered a “more practical alternative technology to stakeholders”, commenting that existing battery technology companies were currently “placing big bets on a relatively narrow set of potential breakthrough innovations”.

Companies participating in the funding round included LG Technology Ventures and Shell Ventures, investment vehicles operated by tech company LG and oil and gas major Shell respectively, as well as technology venture fund Foothill Ventures and Japanese industrial gas company Taiyo Nippon Sanso Corporation.

Shell’s new investment in South 8 follows a “strategic investment” of an undisclosed amount the company made in August 2020. Other energy storage firms to have received backing from Shell Ventures include platform provider AutoGrid and thermal storage start-up Antora Energy.

Robert McIntyre, managing director at LG Technology Ventures, added: “South 8’s technology can power new market applications by solving traditional challenges around safety, manufacturability and more that has limited battery technologies for decades.”

South 8 is a spin out of the University of California San Diego, launched in 2016 after its founding team developed its patented technology at the university. It is founded by Cyrus Rustomji, who now serves as the company’s chief executive officer, and current chief technology officer Jungwoo Lee.

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