General Motors said its venture capital arm GM Ventures, would lead a $50 million Series B financing round for EnergyX, a Texas-based startup developing a more efficient method to extract and process lithium from salt flats.

EnergyX validated its technology with a pilot plant in South America’s “Lithium Triangle,” an area of salt flats covering parts of Argentina, Bolivia and Chile that contains over half of the world’s known lithium reserves. The company’s pilot plant, which started last year, has confirmed that its technology can recover 90% or more of the lithium in brine while using much less energy, water and land than existing processes.

EnergyX plans to use the new funding to construct five larger demonstration plants in North America and South America. General Motors will also help develop, refine, and deploy EnergyX’s technology – as part of the investment.

“EnergyX is developing a novel Direct Lithium Extraction process that’s not only cost competitive but also will reduce energy, land and water usage compared to the current extraction and processing process for brine-based Lithium,” said Jeff Morrison, GM vice president of Global Purchasing and Supply Chain.

“This single bottleneck (a massive lithium shortage) is the biggest challenge to scaling EV production. We will unlock lithium supply in the U.S., a pivotal move in expanding the EV industry. There are many ways of gauging success, but few are more rewarding than the support of leaders like GM”, said Teague Egan, CEO of EnergyX.

GM is investing in every stage of the battery supply chain in North America, from raw materials to processing, to cell components and full battery cell production. The company has committed to invest $35 billion in EVs and autonomous vehicles (AVs) through 2025.

According to Mercom’s Annual And Q4 2022 Funding and M&A Report for Storage, Grid & Efficiency. VC funding for energy storage companies decreased by 34%, with $5.8 billion in 2022 compared to $8.8 billion in 2021.