The CECON Group’s battery experts see a $30 Million investment in high-energy silicon battery production as a good sign that this technology may soon be widely available. Some smartphone makers are already using this technology and electric vehicles and computers are expected to follow suit.
High Energy Silcon Batteries Increase Storage Capacity by 50%Lithium-ion batteries power today’s portable electronics and electric vehicles, and it has long been known that if these batteries were manufactured using silicon electrodes rather than the graphite that is currently in use, their storage capacity would increase by approximately fifty percent. However, because silicon electrodes expand and contract as the battery is charged and reused, they have broken easily.
According to Yi Cui, founder of Amprius, this problem can be solved by producing silicon nanowires. But the production of these wires required the creation of specially-created manufacturing equipment, making the process cost-prohibitive until now. After spending time developing a different product that could be manufactured in existing factories, the company has announced that it has generated the $30 million in venture capital that it needs to move ahead with the production of the longer-lasting batteries, and they have already begun selling them.
Potential Charging Capacity
Amprius’ CEO, Kang Sun, reports that their first product was a battery that utilized a nanoparticle that had silicon at its core but was protected by carbon, which made it more resilient. Though the product was able to hold its charge longer than those that were already on the market, they do not approach the charge capacity of the silicon nanowire product that they are now producing. Where the core-shell batteries could store 650 watt-hours per liter as compared to the conventional lithium-ion batteries’ capacity of between 400 and 620-watt hours, the new silicon electrode batteries will be able to store 750-watt hours of charge.
Still in question is the number of times that the new batteries will be able to be recharged while retaining enough charging capacity. The core-shell batteries have proven to be able to last through more than 500 recharges while maintaining 80% of its capacity, and Amprius is anticipating that the new silicon electrode battery will be able to be charged anywhere from 700 to 1,000 cycles. This could mean that the average American car driver would get approximately ten years of use out of the battery.
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