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All news, insights and events

GDI tests world’s first fully silicon battery anode

EIT InnoEnergy supported battery technology company GDI has launched and tested a battery containing a 100pc silicon anode, in a first step towards non-graphite anodes for the industry.

Third-party tests of the new anode material in battery company Navitas' cells confirmed an increase in energy density of over 30pc with no change to any of the other components such as the electrolyte and cathode active material.

The cell also passed the industry standard "nail penetration test", when a battery is penetrated with a nail to see if it will catch fire. The battery was penetrated with a high nickel cathode, which is susceptible to thermal runaway, and only heated to 30°C. Silicon anodes can be susceptible to thermal runaway and pose a risk to batteries because of the amount of expansion in the material as a charge passes through it, but GDI's technology has not encountered these problems.

The use of silicon in battery anodes has until now been limited to silicon-graphite composite materials, leaving battery makers reliant on the former material, of which production is heavily concentrated in China. Silicon is one of the most abundant elements in the earth's crust, making it a good option for battery makers. Its production is also much more diverse than that of graphite, with suppliers in Europe, the US, Brazil and Malaysia.

Silicon anodes have the potential to reduce charging times, boost safety, increase cycle life and reduce the overall size and weight of battery cells, leading to efficiency savings in electric vehicles (EVs).

"This is a tremendous milestone for us and the industry. The next step is to show our anode can enable EV batteries that power vehicles with over 500 miles of range, allow them to charge 250 miles in 15 minutes hundreds of times, and improve safety," GDI founder and chief executive Rob Anstey said.

GDI in September 2022 formed an alliance with AGC Glass Europe and Carl Schenk AG to scale up its production of anodes, initially to 100MWh in 2024 and eventually to 10GWh by 2028. AGC will provide industrial equipment and GDI earlier this quarter demonstrated its first "roll to roll" production line in Lauenforde, Germany.

"GDI and AGC have developed a clear roadmap to gigawatt scale production by 2028, so that this technology can be used in tens of thousands of high-performance vehicles by 2030," Anstey said.