On the 11th of December, Panasonic Energy and Sila Nanotechnologies signed a purchase agreement for next-generation nano-composite silicon anode material. Panasonic Energy will use Sila’s, Titan Silicon TM, high-performance silicon material as anode material for its EV lithium-ion batteries. It will procure the necessary silicon material from Sila’s manufacturing facility in Washington State, US, however the release did not indicate the size or the time frame of the deal.
Silicon in Batteries
The use of silicon in batteries is key to improving their performance, in theory it has a capacity ten times that of the conventionally used graphite anodes. However, silicon undergoes a charging induced expansion that leads to battery degradation. This is expected to help deliver improved EV performance, increased vehicle range, and reduced charging times. It aims to increase the energy density of its batteries from 800Wh/L to 1,000Wh/L by 2031.
Panasonic’s and Sila’s Expansion
This partnership aligns with Panasonic’s expansion of battery production into North America. The company currently operates a facility with Tesla producing its 4680 battery cells at Tesla’s Nevada Gigafactory. Additionally, it is building a plant in Kansas, and a third is in the planning stages. Earlier in 2023, Panasonic signed another purchase agreement with UK based Nexeon for silicon anode materials that will be used in its Kansas facility from 2025. Similarly, Sila in 2022 signed a supply deal with Mercedes-Benz for the use of its silicon anode chemistry which will be used in the G-Class series starting in the next couple of years.
This second silicon material announcement reinforces Panasonic’s commitment to the technology. Increasingly we have seen other players make moves into the space including, CATL, LG Chem, EVE and Sunwoda amongst others. Although more expensive than carbon-based anodes, silicon-based anodes can still to be used in all types of batteries, this appeals to lower energy cells, such as LFP as it can increase its limited energy density.
Varnika Agarwal PhD, battery research analyst at Rho Motion, commented “Silicon based anodes have received a lot of interest in recent years, increasingly we expect more silicon blended anodes to enter the market. The material offers good thermodynamic lithiation potential, increased average voltage, higher volumetric and gravimetric energy capacities leading to higher capacity batteries. The potential for the technology is huge, subsequently we have seen a large number of automotive OEMs trying to secure partnerships and investing in start-ups.”
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