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Sakuú and NGK Partnership Shows Spark Plug Companies May Have a Future Making Batteries

We have been following Sakuú’s movements with curiosity. The company said it developed a method to make lithium-ion batteries with additive manufacturing. You probably know that technique as 3D printing. Sakuú also said it would deliver a solid-state battery. Its latest partnership shows how combustion engine suppliers may reinvent themselves: Sakuú joined forces with NGK, one of the big boys in spark plug manufacturing.
Sakuú will show NGK a way out of combustion engines with new partnership 6 photos
Sakuú-LM cell, with lithium metal anode and 300 Wh/kgSakuú-LM cell, with lithium metal anode and 300 Wh/kgRenderings of different Sakuu battery formatsSakuu's new engineering hub in Silicon ValleySakuú will show NGK a way out of combustion engines with new partnership
If you are asking yourself what role spark plugs may have with batteries, the answer is none. What NGK can offer is its expertise in a wide variety of materials. Sakuú is interested in the Japanese spark plug supplier’s knowledge of ceramic materials.

The two companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) that will get NGK to “co-develop and provide ceramic materials for Sakuú’s solid-state battery production.” That sounded strange. After all, the battery startup said it is already developing a 3D-printed solid-state cell, which suggests the ceramic materials are either already selected or well advanced.

We asked Sakuú about that, and the company only said that “NGK ceramic materials will play a key role in Sakuú's proprietary ceramic powder and binder as the company advances to commercialize its first SwiftPrint solid-state battery.”

Consider QuantumScape’s example and how crucial the ceramic separator is for that startup. Everything QuantumScape promised is based on the properties of its proprietary ceramic material. It would be strange if it needed NGK’s help. That said, the partnership with NGK only makes sense if Sakuú tells the spark plug producer which ceramic materials it needs so that the Japanese company can help it scale production more quickly.

More than the future SwiftPrint solid-state cells and the mysteries that still surround them, Sakuú’s MoU with NGK demonstrates that legacy suppliers are trying to figure out what they can sell when spark plugs, pistons, cylinders, and other engine components are no longer necessary. NGK may be building itself a safe space as a ceramic materials specialist.

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