A small company called Sila has contracted with most of the major automakers to research or deliver a promising new battery chemistry that could allow electric vehicles to go further with a small battery. than.
The Alameda, California, company started more than a decade ago as a startup from Georgia Tech, and its co-founder and CEO Gene Berdichevsky says its chemistry can host a lot. more energy than present lithium-ion battery.
In current batteries, lithium ions move from the anode to the cathode, generating electricity by dissociating into charge-carrying ions and electrons. Graphite stores lithium atoms inside a the battery until needed. Instead of graphite, Sila uses silicon, which can store more lithium.
Berdichevsky, an early employee at Tesla, spoke to the Associated Press about the future of Tesla tram. Interview has been edited for clarity and length.
Q: What do you see as the shortcoming of lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles today, and how can your company change that?
A: The biggest shortcoming is cost. We have proven that amazing vehicles can be created with battery technology, very far that consumers love and want to buy. The key now is to make every transport equally appealing, and that means finding cheaper cars without sacrificing performance, without making the car only 100-mile, 200-mile range. Those are pretty mediocre cars that people tend not to want to buy. To do that, you really need to reduce costs. The best way is to increase performance and store more energy in fewer cells. By replacing graphite with silicon, each vehicle battery can store 20% to 40% more energy. Then you can use 20% to 40% less cells to fill the battery pack. So the higher the efficiency of the chemistry, the fewer cells you need. The fewer cells you need, the battery system can have the same range at a lower cost. Silicon also allows you to increase performance. You can maintain the same number of cells and get a longer range. That allows things like cars to go 500 miles.
Q: I know that Sila’s silicon anode battery is present in the watch. How long until they use the tram?
A: Commercialization requires a large amount of work, especially in terms of scaling. Our silicon technology is now in consumer devices, and we offer an increase of about 20% in power density than today’s most advanced batteries. We can also do it in automotive cells. We tested that with our automotive partners. But bringing that product to market required us to build a significantly larger production facility, which we had already begun to do. We purchased a 160-acre property with a 600,000-square-foot building in Lake Moses, Washington. That will start at the end of 2024 and go into full production in 2025. And eventually 150 gigawatt hours, which is about 2 million cars worth production. You’ll start seeing your first cars with our technology late ’25, early ’26.
Q: You have a contract with Mercedes. Was it the first brand in battery chemistry? And what are the other automakers?
A: The first announced customer is Mercedes. They will use our technology in their EQ product line starting with G Wagon. We’re working with quite a few different car manufacturers and go through very rigorous testing to confirm the performance we can deliver before we can say we’re working with them. surname.
Q: How does a silicon anode get out of the graphite and make the energy storage higher?
A: In a lithium-ion battery, there are two halves anode and cathode. And these take up almost half the capacity in the battery. The way silicon works is that it can bond with more lithium atoms than graphite can in a much smaller space. So you can take out the graphite that takes up half the battery and you can replace it with siliconPlatform-based materials can take up 25% of the battery. So now you will have a bit more space and so you can shrink the size of that cell while still storing the same amount of energy.
Q: When do you think we’ll all be driving electric cars?
A: We won’t all be driving EVs until the 2040s because there are a lot of vehicles on the road that will have to roll over. Not only do you have to get 100% of the new cars sold as electric, but you have to do it in 10 to 15 years, because people keep their vehicles. Turning the entire fleet over will take some time, perhaps until the middle of this century. I think the more interesting number will be when we have 50%, 60%, 80% market penetration. The biggest constraint we’ll have when we get there in the mid-2030s are supply chain constraints. Can we find the nickel we need, can we find the lithium we need? Can’t find it but can we make those investments properly? Can we make sure that authorization happens quickly, can we ensure that those investments come into play as quickly as possible? I think it will just be a question of whether supply will keep up with demand, because demand is clearly there.
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