The capacity of the new lithium-ion battery commercialization can be increased by 40%

February 25, 2021

Sila Nanotechnology Corporation of Silicon Valley announced recently that it has raised $ 70 million to expand its new silicon-lithium battery technology from prototype to commercial scale. The company claims that its technology can increase the capacity of lithium-ion batteries by 40%.

Lithium-ion batteries are the main force of modern life and provide power for people's smartphones and electric vehicles. However, the power of smartphones is generally exhausted after less than a full day; electric vehicles bring people "range anxiety", even if they are fully charged, people can't travel like gasoline-powered cars.

By optimizing existing materials, old-fashioned lithium-ion batteries have been able to achieve performance improvements of around 5% per year. The most direct way to increase battery capacity is to increase the amount of lithium ions stored in either electrode. So far, most improvements in battery life have been achieved through certain combinations of nickel, manganese, and cobalt at the cathode. When these metals are combined, their crystal structure can store lithium ions more efficiently, and also makes it easier for ions to move through the cathode to the anode than other materials. But the anode is basically made of the same material-graphite.

Many companies are currently trying to use silicon to make higher-capacity anodes. Theoretically, the number of lithium ions that can be stored is about 25 times that of graphite anodes of similar size, but they all fail because the silicon anode ruptures under the pressure of many lithium ions. . Sheila tried to solve this problem by filling silicon atoms in a relatively empty matrix of nanoparticles. When the silicon anode absorbs lithium ions, the ions will fill the gaps instead of squeezing the silicon atoms apart, ensuring that the structure will not break.

The CEO of Sheila, Gene Bedichevsky, said that after 7 years of development, its silicon anode lithium battery technology has been verified in small electronic devices such as wireless headphones, smart watches and smart phones. The latest funding from investors including Samsung and Siemens will help Sheila build a facility in Silicon Valley capable of producing 20 megawatt-hours of battery capacity per year, enough to power 2 million smartphones or 10 million smart watches.

If successful, Sheila will switch to manufacturing large batteries that power electric vehicles. Earlier this year, the company had established a partnership with BMW, which expressed its willingness to become the first car manufacturer to use lithium-silicon batteries. (Reporter Feng Weidong)

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