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Drop-in replacement materials from abundant resources to double energy in EV batteries

Sila Nanotechnologies

Drop-In Replacement Materials From Abundant Resources to Double Energy in EV Batteries

Program: 
ARPA-E Award: 
$3,100,000
Location: 
Alameda, CA
Project Term: 
03/01/2019 to 02/28/2022
Project Status: 
ACTIVE
Technical Categories: 
Critical Need: 
Commercial lithium-ion batteries (LIBs) currently rely on graphite anodes and intercalation cathode materials based on cobalt (Co) and nickel (Ni) oxides. After decades of improvements, both anodes and cathodes are approaching their theoretical performance limits as far as their volumetric energy, power densities, and cycle life. Additionally, as the market for electric vehicles (EVs) grows, Co and Ni supplies will not be able to keep up with demand due to the increasing scarcity of their world reserves. This scarcity has already spurred some producers to violate mining environmental and safety regulations to gain advantage and could potentially raise the cost of EVs.
Project Innovation + Advantages: 
Sila Nanotechnologies will develop a class of drop-in cathode replacement materials to double the energy stored in traditional LIBs, the most popular battery chemistry used in a wide range of applications, including electric vehicles. The Sila team will replace conventional Ni and Co-based cathodes with a nanostructured composite made from abundant materials that greatly increases the battery's energy density. Sila Nanotechnologies will pair their new cathode material with a proprietary silicon-based anode, enabling the battery to outperform current lithium-ion cells while using existing cell assembly infrastructures to reduce the cost and risk of technology adoption.
Potential Impact: 
Sila Nanotechnologies' new class of drop-in replacement materials will halve the cost of LIBs and improve cell safety and lifespan.
Security: 
The project addresses the dependence of conventional LIB cathodes on Co and Ni, which suffer from limited global resources and price volatility.
Environment: 
These materials will be produced from safer, less expensive, globally available resources and will contribute to accelerated adoption of electric transportation.
Economy: 
When compared with graphite-metal oxide combinations used in LIBs, the proposed cells would double volumetric energy density. This improvement would reduce EVs' battery pack cost by 2-3 times because fewer LIB cells will be required for the same energy needs.
Contacts
ARPA-E Program Director: 
Dr. Grigorii Soloveichik
Project Contact: 
Laura Gerber
Release Date: 
11/15/2018