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Startup makes breakthrough that could halve the cost of EV batteries — and it could be sourced domestically

It will be a big win for most in the sector.

It will be a big win for most in the sector.

Photo Credit: iStock

The next big battery breakthrough might not involve a 500-plus-mile range or a minutes-long charge time — the traditional measuring-stick metrics for the electric vehicle industry. 

Instead, California-based Coreshell's silicon electrode coating could halve the cost of anodes while decreasing dependency on a Chinese-mastered graphite market, according to a report from TechCrunch.

And if the startup's nanomaterial science can help to deliver that much, it will be a big win for most in the sector, including potential EV buyers who balk at pricing.  

Don't worry about performance, either. Coreshell's officials told TechCrunch that their battery may even have the "edge" when compared to power packs that use traditional, expensive materials. 

"We're now commercializing the lowest-cost lithium-ion battery configuration, featuring the first commercial-ready metallurgical (silicon) dominant anode," company CEO Jonathan Tan wrote in a recent LinkedIn post. 

Silicon, being used in batteries by Panasonic and other companies, is Earth's second-most abundant element after oxygen. As an electrode, it has the potential to store 10 times the energy as graphite, according to ScienceDirect. But since it "can swell like balloons" during operation, it can lead to battery failure, as TechCrunch notes

By combining silicon with their specialized elastic coating, the Coreshell experts can make sure the anode doesn't bloat excessively. The coating also allows ions to move more easily between the anode and cathode during operation

Since Coreshell uses cheaper, metallurgical-grade silicon, the company claims the tech can provide power packs at up to 30% less cost. That's partly because graphite, the common anode material, is expensive and subject to Chinese-controlled trade markets

"Two years ago, we had a breakthrough on metallurgical-grade silicon," Tan told TechCrunch.  "It is going to be the thing that we're focused on bringing to market and we're commercializing starting next year."

As part of the headlines, Coreshell has a new deal with a silicon supplier to ensure the element arrives in abundance. Better yet, the company's leaders think there's enough silicon in the U.S. to supply demand. 

TechCrunch reports that the company's next battery will be of the lithium-iron-phosphate (LFP) variety, a cheaper alternative to common Li-ion packs that has gained attention in other labs as well. 

The anode/cathode combination will use cheaper materials overall and be able to overcome energy storage concerns that have hindered the LFP science, per TechCrunch. 

Cheaper batteries will lower the cost of EVs, speeding up the transition to an already growing market. Lower prices, combined with government tax breaks, and fuel and maintenance savings of around $1,500 a year, should ease the switch from a gas-powered car. 

What's more, 10,000 pounds of planet-warming air pollution can be avoided annually by driving an EV. That's important because vehicle exhaust can hurt our brains, lungs, and hearts, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

For Coreshell's part, there is optimism as substantial testing continues. The first line of batteries are likely to power electric bikes, scooters, and buggies. But TechCrunch reports that officials hope to enter the EV market by 2030.

"We are growing quickly to produce and deploy the first commercially ready metallurgical Silicon anode technology," Tan posted on LinkedIn.

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