By this time next year, Panasonic electric vehicle batteries may be (or soon will be) outfitted with silicon anodes, courtesy of California-based Sila. It’s part of an investment in North America from the iconic tech company geared to strengthen the regional battery component supply chain.
The companies are working together to bring Sila’s silicon anodes to production as soon as 2024, in a move that promises greater range and faster charge times, according to a report from Live Science. It’s big news, as the International Energy Agency estimated EV sales had exceeded 14 million vehicles worldwide in 2023.
“This partnership represents a significant milestone for Sila, our customers, and the industry at large, and will be key to accelerating consumer EV adoption,” Sila CEO Gene Berdichevsky said in a press release.
Panasonic already makes 10% of the world’s EV batteries, many for Tesla. Reuters reports that the company is looking to add factories to make more power packs in an effort to meet production goals it set for the end of the decade.
Many experts consider silicon, one of the most abundant elements on Earth, to be a smart money play. Sila’s Titan Silicon anode uses silicon powder to make the battery component with great results, including 10 times the storage capacity of most batteries with graphite anodes.
In a common EV battery, lithium ions move between the anode and cathode as the pack powers up and down.
The tech arrives after more than 10 years of research, with more than 70,000 “material iterations,” and more than 200 patents, all per Sila. By replacing graphite with Sila’s silicon, Panasonic can avoid complicated foreign graphite markets that control the supply chain. What’s more, Sila notes that silicon produces up to 70% less carbon pollution per kilowatt-hour than graphite during production.
Silicon innovations haven’t come without hurdles.
Live Science notes that silicon in the anodes can swell up to four times its original size during battery operation, leading to malfunctions. Fortunately, Sila claims its nano-composite tech “dramatically” reduces swelling.
Panasonic officials seem to agree, evidenced by their big deal with Sila.
“Leveraging advanced battery technology and extensive expertise, the company aims to drive the growth of the lithium-ion battery industry to meet the surging global demand for EVs,” the company said in a press release.
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