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Amprius raises $25M for breakthrough batteries from Kleiner, Google CEO

Battery startup Amprius has raised $25 million to commercialize what it says will be the next generation of lithium-ion batteries, signing on major new investors like Google CEO Eric Schmidt and venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers.

Amprius is looking to commercialize high energy, silicon-based materials to turbo-charge the next generation of lithium-ion batteries, which are used in everything from laptops to electric cars. The company says battery cells with Amprius technology will offer a “dramatic increase” in energy,  range and runtime for consumer electronics and electric vehicles.

“Our recent fundraising will enable us to deploy our first commercial product, validate our manufacturing processes, and launch a global presence,” said  Dr. Kang Sun, CEO of Amprius, in a statement.

Battery technology has been winning investment lately from both private and public sectors. Advancements in battery technology are key to electric car adoption — they make up around 50 percent of the cost of an electric car, and their lifespan and performance is an ongoing concern for potential electric car buyers.

However, some are skeptical that major advancements in batteries can be made. One scientist said the battery advancements won’t mimic the rapid leaps and bounds made over the past few years in the computer industry, and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla is also sour on electric cars. He’s chosen to invest instead in a company that makes more efficient internal combustion engines. Google Ventures recently invested in Transphorm, a startup that reduces power conversion losses. Its technology could eventually yield more efficient electric cars, and doesn’t require battery advancements since the secret sauce is in reducing power naturally lost when it’s converted from alternating current to direct current.

Battery startups that have recently won funding include ActaCell, which is looking to use a nano material to create a high-energy battery cell for use in hybrid trucks. GM’s venture capital arm has also invested in battery startups Envia Systems and Sakti3.

The company declined to comment on what markets it would be tackling first, but in its press release, says its product has “recently achieved key validation milestones for consumer electronics applications such as smartphones and continues to advance toward requirements necessary for electric drive vehicle applications.”

Other investors in this round of fundraising include VantagePoint Venture Partners, Stanford University, Trident Capital and Chinese funds IPV Capital and  Qian Neng Fund. The company was founded in 2008 by Stanford professor Yi Cui.