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Silicon Anode Batteries

Silicon anode batteries, like traditional lithium-ion batteries, operate based on the movement of lithium ions between the anode (negative electrode) and cathode (positive electrode) through an electrolyte. However, the key difference lies in the use of silicon as the anode material instead of graphite.

Before we expand on the advantages of silicon anode batteries, it’s good to clarify that when we refer to silicon, we are talking about the same chemical element used in building computer processors. It should not be confused with silicone, the synthetic polymer material used in sealants, lubricants, insulators, bathroom caulking, adhesives, medical implants and personal care products. Silicone is a by-product of silicon (notice the -e at the end of the spelling).

Battery Silicon Anode - Silicon crystal

Silicon crystal

Silicon has the ability to store a large number of lithium ions compared to graphite, which is commonly used in traditional lithium-ion batteries. The main advantage of silicon is that it can contain 10 times higher energy density than graphite. With such a high density, it’s no wonder that research in silicon anode batteries attracts huge investments from big manufacturers across the globe.

Silicon anodes typically comprise nano-structured or porous silicon to accommodate the volume changes that occur during the charge and discharge cycles, and this presents a big obstacle in mass production and adoption of this technology: the repeated expansion and contraction of the silicon anode during charge and discharge cycles can cause mechanical stress and lead to the formation of cracks or the loss of electrical contact. This can result in capacity loss and reduced battery performance over time. To address these challenges, researchers are exploring various approaches such as nanostructuring, coating the silicon particles with protective layers, using silicon composites, or incorporating other materials to enhance stability and mitigate volume expansion issues.

The top 5 countries in silicon production are China, Russia, Brazil, Norway and the United States. Considering that many Silicon Anode batteries (both experimental and commercial) have shown the ability to recharge from fully depleted to 90% in just 10 minutes (!), we expect this technology to be one of the leaders of the game in the forthcoming years.

Development of Silicon Anode batteries is expected to boom due to the amazing benefits they can offer to electric vehicles of all types, and reaching as far as to include even aviation. Have a look at the video below for more on that very exciting and promising technology: