A new type of anode could vastly increase the energy density of lithium-ion batteries, allowing greater EV range
Spotted: Lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries are ubiquitous, powering everything from portable consumer electronics to electric vehicles (EVs). While Li-ion batteries boast energy densities much higher than lead-acid batteries, increases in their energy density are plateauing. However, a new type of anode, produced by NanoGraf Technologies, may change this.
NanoGraf, a spinout from Northwestern University and Argonne National Laboratory, has developed a way to vastly improve the energy density of Li-ion batteries by replacing the conventional graphite-based anode with one based on a proprietary, doped silicon alloy with a protective inorganic and organic coating. The combination helps stabilise the material during charge and discharge.
While conventional graphite-based anodes offer a capacity of around 372 milliampere-hours per gram of mass (mAh/g), the NanoGraf material can achieve capacities as high as 1400 mAh/g. This is a potential game-changer in battery manufacture, allowing longer-lasting, higher-energy, and higher-power Li-ion batteries. In addition, the new anode can be easily dropped into existing battery manufacturing processes.
Last year, the company was awarded a $10 million (around €9 million) contract from the US Government to develop an advanced silicon anode manufacturing facility – which will be the US’s first large-scale silicon oxide factory – for which it will receive tax credits under the Inflation Reduction Act. This is one example of how the landmark piece of climate legislation is driving clean energy innovation in the US.
Improvements in battery technology are key to the greater use of renewable technologies. In the archive, Springwise has spotted a number of innovations in this area, including new uses for second-hand batteries and advances in environmentally friendly sodium batteries.
Written By: Lisa Magloff