Lilac Solutions, an Oakland-based mining technology company, has raised $20 million in Series A funding from a group of investors led by Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a $1 billion fund backed by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-chair Bill Gates.
Launched in 2016 by the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, a group of business leaders, entrepreneurs, and venture capitalists, Breakthrough Energy Ventures supports companies whose innovations have the potential to significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Lilac Solutions is commercializing a new ion exchange technology for extracting lithium — used in the lithium ion batteries that power electric vehicles — that is significantly faster, cheaper, and more scalable than existing technology. Other investors in this funding round include the Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment, The Engine at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Lowercarbon Capital.
The funding will enable Lilac to expand its engineering team; scale production of its unique ion exchange beads, the core of the company's lithium extraction system; and deploy its technology globally. According to the company, the global market for lithium, a critical resource for the new energy economy, is expected to increase thirty-fold over the coming decades.
"The Lilac team couldn't be more excited to have this spectacular group of investors support us and our vision to modernize lithium production," said Lilac Solutions founder and CEO Dave Snydacker. "With Lilac unlocking significant new supplies of lithium, battery manufacturers are poised for decades of growth as the world transitions to electric vehicles and renewable power."
"While the electrification of vehicles is one of the most promising opportunities to reduce global emissions, today's limited supplies of battery raw materials like lithium and cobalt challenge this transition," said Breakthrough Energy Ventures member Carmichael Roberts. "We can't push for faster EV adoption without the resources to support production. Lilac Solutions' novel technology can change the supply and demand equation by helping lithium producers extract much larger quantities at a significantly lower cost, and from new sources. This is the type of industrial innovation required to support a transition to EVs at scale."