Accelerating Commercialization of Advanced Silicon Alloy Cells
Company Name: SiNode Systems Partners
Program Office: Vehicles
Location: Chicago, IL
Email: Samir Mayekar, Co-Founder & CEO;
Award Amount: $77,000
Project Term: 12 months
Project Status: Active
Participating Lab(s): Argonne National Laboratory
Electric vehicles could be the ultimate destination for oil-free, clean transportation. But widespread adoption of electric vehicle technology is heavily dependent upon improvements in the next generation lithium-ion batteries. Further, experts and entrepreneurs have identified alloy anode technologies as critical performance drivers in boosting lithium-ion batteries, but market adoption of advanced alloy technologies has run into several challenges, most notably silicon alloy expansion, which results in commercially unacceptable volumetric expansion of batteries.
SiNode Systems is working to limit alloy expansion through a novel materials architecture that involves encapsulation of silicon alloy materials by graphene. The graphene encapsulation of silicon particles provides a semi-flexible framework within which silicon particles can expand and contract during charging and use. However, material solutions must be coupled with system-level engineering design to holistically manage battery expansion. System level design efforts require industrially relevant materials processing and battery prototyping capabilities which can accurately probe the sensitivity of design parameters to cell expansion. Such processing and prototyping capabilities are core competencies of large battery manufacturers, and are not typically accessible to small materials business ventures. This program will allow SiNode Systems to partner with experts at Argonne National Laboratory's battery prototyping facility to probe the relationship between key materials and test electrode and cell properties on battery expansion under commercially relevant conditions. Lessons learned will be leveraged to optimize a final battery design that can meet near-term customer performance targets.
PROJECT INNOVATION + ADVANTAGES
SiNode's battery materials technology differs from competing systems in three main areas. First, the company's materials are produced via a low cost solution-phase processing method that achieves comparable results to technologies that require more complex – and higher-cost – manufacturing equipment, such as chemical vapor deposition. Second, SiNode has bluechip customer and supply chain partnerships, which has enabled the company to produce materials that can be easily integrated into existing cell manufacturing infrastructure. Finally, SiNode has developed relationships across the automotive supply chain that can enhance time-to-market for commercially viable products.
Lowering battery costs could open up new pathways for advanced manufacturing in the United States, allowing domestic companies to become more competitive globally.
Vehicle electrification is a promising pathway for virtually eliminating tailpipe emissions from passenger vehicles. Importantly, as the country's electric grid becomes cleaner, emissions associated with charging electric vehicles are dropping, too. Already, more than two-thirds of Americans live in regions where electric vehicles out-perform their hybrid and gas counterparts on an emission basis.
National security experts recognize reducing U.S. oil use as an imperative. The average vehicle consumes roughly 500 gallons of gas a year, a figure electric vehicles can effectively reduce to zero for individual drivers.