Silicon recognized as ‘main anode component’ for high performance batteries

Broek op Langedijk, Netherlands – 2 April 2021

Last week Oliver Blume, CEO Porsche said that he sees an important role for silicon as the main anode component of high performance batteries. At the Volkswagen Power Day Blume presented their innovations for the battery cell, which he called “tomorrow’s combustion chamber”. While silicon has been mixed with graphite in anodes, more automotive and battery manufacturers are testing silicon-dominant anodes to develop better batteries for electric vehicles.

Since more than two decades, scientists have recognized silicon to be able to boost energy density of lithium-ion batteries, as it has roughly ten times more storage capacity than graphite. However, difficulty in managing silicon’s properties has prevented the technology from being applied at scale for a long time. The last couple of years this has changed rapidly.

Car manufacturers want to go electric

Many automotive manufacturers have ambitious plans of a greener future. Daimler for example aims to have a carbon-neutral new passenger car fleet in 20 years, described in their #2039 vision. This means that plug-in hybrids or all-electric vehicles should make up more than 50% of Daimler car sales by 2030. Volvo’s plans are even more ambitious: they aim to have 50% of total sales be electric by 2025 and 100% by 2030.

To get to mainstream EV adoption several hurdles are to be taken, such as range anxiety and high costs. Therefore there is a huge demand to develop lighter and more efficient batteries. Silicon anode technology is now on the roadmap of every major automotive manufacturer.

From mixing silicon to silicon-dominant

When Volkswagen held its Power Day two weeks ago, the importance of silicon-dominant anodes was recognized by Oliver Blume, CEO Porsche, when he said during his presentation: “Silicon is the main anode component of the future”. He also said “in order to meet extreme demands placed on the cell systems and high performance use, it is necessary to change the chemistry from graphite to silicon in anodes.” He explained why they see silicon as the game changer: it can store up to 10 times more lithium ions than graphite, it has fast charging capacities, and a reduced internal resistance.

The day after, Porsche announced in their press release “High performance batteries with silicon anodes” that they are testing silicon-dominant anodes, fully replacing graphite by silicon. Porsche is not alone in testing the possibilities of silicon dominant anodes. Several world leading battery and automotive manufacturers have invested in companies producing silicon-dominant anodes or batteries.

Tech market advisory firm ABI research has also recognized the importance of silicon-dominant anodes for next gen batteries. They predict that between 2023 and 2026 silicon-dominant anodes will be the primary solution to boosting battery density.

IDTechEx refers in their article “Is Silicon the Key to Another Technological revolution” to highly porous materials as one of the solutions to stabilise silicon cycling. The report also mentions the enormous increase in funding invested in silicon anode start-up companies, showing the continued interest in the use of silicon in next generation lithium-ion batteries.

Source: IDTechEx. “Li-ion Batteries 2020-2030“.

E-magy silicon: nano-porous silicon for silicon-dominant anodes

E-magy is at the forefront of the silicon-dominant approach, advocating the use of anodes with silicon as the only active material as the best strategy to extract its full potential. The team behind E-magy has been working with specialty silicon for multiple high-tech applications since 2000. With over 20 years of silicon crystallization experience we know the material inside out. Since 2013 we have been developing nano-structured silicon for batteries. We apply a unique process to create the right nano-structured material that works best for silicon anodes in batteries of electric vehicles. With a very low swelling rate and drop-in applicable in existing production lines, it is an easy to use silicon for the EV industry.

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