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Double Energy Density Anodes for Lithium-Ion Batteries

Sila Nanotechnologies
ARPA-E Award: 
Alameda, CA
Project Term: 
10/01/2012 to 03/31/2016
Project Status: 
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Most of today's electric vehicles (EVs) are powered by lithium-ion (Li-Ion) batteries--the same kind of batteries used in cell phones and laptop computers. Currently, most Li-Ion batteries account for nearly 65% of the total cost of EVs. To compete in the market with gasoline-based vehicles, EVs must cost less and drive farther. An EV that is cost-competitive with gasoline would require a battery with twice the energy storage of today's state-of-the-art Li-Ion battery at 30% of the cost.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Sila Nanotechnologies is developing a high-throughput technology for scalable synthesis of high-capacity nanostructured materials for Li-Ion EV batteries. The successful implementation of this technology will allow improvements in energy storage capacity of today's best batteries at half the cost. In contrast to other high-capacity material synthesis technologies, Sila's materials show minimal volume changes during the battery operation, which is a key challenge of next-generation battery anode materials. In addition, Sila's technology may allow for the dramatic enhancements of the batteries' cycle life, structural stability, safety, and charging rate. The low-cost, drop-in compatibility with existing cell manufacturing technologies, and environmental friendliness of both the material synthesis and electrode fabrication will assist in the rapid adoption of Sila's technology. Coupling increased battery capacity with substantial cost reduction could alleviate the driving range anxiety and price problems associated with today's EVs. Increasing the capacity of battery electrodes is critical to lowering the cost of Li-Ion batteries and making EVs cost-competitive with gasoline-based vehicles.
Potential Impact: 
If successful, Sila's project would reduce the cost of Li-ion energy storage and simultaneously increase energy density.
Increased use of EVs would decrease U.S. dependence on foreign oil--the transportation sector is the dominant source of this dependence.
Greater use of EVs would reduce greenhouse gas emissions, 28% of which come from the transportation sector.
This battery would enable an EV to travel from Chicago to St. Louis (300 miles) on a single charge, for less than $10 on average.
Innovation Update: 
(As of May 2016)
Sila Nanotechnologies is developing silicon anodes that increase the energy density of Lithium-ion batteries without the typical adverse swelling that can occur when using silicon. During the team’s ARPA-E project, Sila developed new composite anode powders, which were used to manufacture thousands of lower capacity (~10 mAh) single-layer pouch cells. Since then, Sila has produced 100-200 mAh multi-layer demo cells that retain high current capacity (about 80%) after as many as 400-600 cycles. To scale production of its material, Sila built a robot assembly unit to make stacked pouch cells. The team has nearly completed construction of a pilot-scale reactor to manufacture their silicon-based anode materials at a scale of kilograms per day. The company has attracted investment from corporate and financial partners and has established strategic partnerships with industry – all of which support Sila’s efforts to commercialize its technology in the near future. As of early 2016, Sila estimated that it would deploy its technology in consumer electronics by 2017 and in automotive applications by 2020-2022. 
For a detailed assessment of the Sila team's project and impact, please click here.
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Paul Albertus
Project Contact: 
Gene Berdichevsky
Georgia Tech Research Corporation
Release Date: