- Build and manage a great team as the Founder and CEO of Sylvatex, Inc.
- Featured Author in women in energy
- Fellow of All Raise
- Unreasonable Barclays Fellow
- Affiliate user with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)
- Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)
- Alliance of Chief Executives
- Astia Fellows
- Silicon Valley Leadership Group
- Won numerous awards and funding at industry conferences and venture funding competitions
- Selected as Forbes “30 under 30 in Energy”
What is your field of expertise?
Coming from a background in applied science and economics, I shifted careers from med tech to climate tech over 13 years ago. Since then, I have worked with industry leaders from the national labs, government, and industry to solve climate’s biggest problems. I attended executive training at Singularity University, which expanded my ability to think big and create solutions that could impact a billion people. Sylvatex was sparked by the immense need to redesign transportation and the broader energy sector. We are currently future-proofing the production of electric vehicle battery materials. To this end, I have spoken at numerous domestic and international events, and Sylvatex has won multiple awards and venture funding competitions. I am a Barclays Unreasonable Fellow, an All Raise fellow, and a current affiliate of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Argonne National Laboratory and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Describe your journey to where you are today.
Growing up, I was heavily influenced by my father, Dr. William Hilton Klausmeier, an artist and visionary ahead of his time. He carried a deep passion for applied chemistry and the development of sustainable systems. In my elementary years, Dr. Klausmeier’s work brought my siblings and me to Bangkok, Thailand, where we lived for several years and saw firsthand the air quality impacts of traditional energy. In middle school, my family moved back to the United States, settling in the rolling hills of Eugene, Oregon. Upon graduating high school, I received scholarships to attend the University of Oregon (UO), where I studied Chemistry and Economics.
After graduating with honors, I pursued my Master of Science at UO in biomechanical engineering in Human Physiology. This educational journey helped solidify deep learning in many technical areas and enhanced my systems thinking capability. Following in my father’s footsteps, I began to see how I could apply these principles to solve problems that I encountered in the world around me.
While in the Bay Area entrepreneur ecosystem, I grew my wonderful collection of trusted advisors and mentors who have helped me play the long game in the innovation life cycle. In parallel with this work, I was inspired by the impactful scientific innovations my father had the potential to make. After my father abruptly passed away in 2008, I decided to change professional lanes and expand upon some of the work he had developed to see if there was commercial potential to reduce carbon emissions and mitigate climate change. The rest is history.
My current mantra is, “Surround yourself with people that inspire you, do work you love,
and drive fiercely towards the change you want to see in the world.”
What does your company do, for whom, and how does it fit into the bigger picture of solving global issues with clean tech?
Sylvatex (SVX) is transitioning the world’s energy systems through foundational manufacturing improvements impacting our zero-emission electric future and energy storage. We create high-performing, sustainable lithium-ion battery cathode materials. Our unique production technology uses a sustainable, waterless process to help meet the rising demand for EV batteries. This next-generation technology is a step-change improvement to existing cathode manufacturing and is much more cost and climate- friendly.
Cathode active material (CAM) production is an integral piece of the supply chain for manufacturing EV batteries as they comprise over half of the cost and carbon emissions of the lithium-ion battery.
In our assessment, Sylvatex’s waterless cathode production process has the potential to reduce CAM cost by over 25%, reduce plant capital needs by 40%, reduce energy consumption by up to 80%, reduce synthesis time by at least sixfold, and increase yields to over 99%. Furthermore, the new process uses a broader range of raw and recycled materials inputs by incorporating metal oxides or metal hydroxides. Our approach is not locked into a singular battery chemistry, allowing Sylvatex to stay current with evolving technologies and industry demand. By unlocking greater cost-efficiency and optionality in battery production, SVX is enabling EV automakers and the battery supply chain to meet the rising demand for lithium-ion batteries while accelerating the widespread adoption of electrified mobility.
What do you think is the most important thing we can be doing in terms of clean tech solutions?
A fully electrified future of transportation is coming, but we won’t reach our climate goals if we don’t future-proof battery manufacturing. Currently, the manufacturing process for EV batteries is expensive and wasteful. Scaling this process to meet the exponential demand is carbon intensive, thereby removing the positive climate impact of electrified transportation.
More economical and sustainable manufacturing processes need to be scaled to lower the cost of battery production, which reduces the cost of the battery and therefore lowers the cost of EVs, increasing EV adoption.
To make this happen, we must invest in building assets that enable the optionality to utilize multiple battery chemistries and recycled materials. This solution will, in turn, provide a broader and more eco-friendly stream of minerals to supply the growing demand. Additionally, we can broaden the range of material inputs to incorporate less processed and wider spec of materials to increase the supply of these critical minerals.
With new battery materials and manufacturing processes, EVs and Energy Storage markets are more competitive in the domestic markets while boosting the local economies, increasing accessibility, and lessening the environmental impact of battery production – creating a brighter future for ourselves and the planet.
LinkedIn: Virginia Klausmeier