Panasonic, a major supplier to Tesla and responsible for about 10 percent of global EV batteries, has partnered with Sila, a groundbreaking tech company. Sila recently signed a supply agreement with Mercedes-Benz for its upcoming long-range G-class electric SUV, set to debut in 2025. This collaboration is poised to transform the electric vehicle (EV) landscape by introducing Sila’s Titan Silicon anode powder, a game-changing alternative to traditional graphite in lithium-ion batteries.

Sila’s Titan Silicon anode powder comprises micrometer-sized particles of nano-structured silicon, offering up to 10 times more energy storage than graphite. This advancement, if adopted for EV anodes, could potentially enable 500-mile nonstop trips and reduce recharge times to just 10 minutes. The revolutionary aspect of Sila’s technology lies in its ability to address silicon’s tendency to swell during repeated charging, a drawback that has historically reduced battery life.

Gene Berdichevsky, Sila’s CEO and co-founder, emphasized the intricate nature of their achievement, stating, “It took us 12 years and 80,000 iterations to get to this point. It’s sophisticated science.” Berdichevsky, formerly of Tesla, played a pivotal role in developing Tesla’s Roadster battery system before co-founding Sila with colleagues from Tesla and Georgia Tech.

Sila’s technology uses nanoscale carbon “scaffolding” to accommodate silicon’s expansion during charging, allowing for a seamless integration into existing manufacturing processes. According to Berdichevsky, the Titan Silicon can replace anywhere from 50 to 100 percent of graphite in lithium-ion batteries, potentially delivering a 40 percent increase in mileage for typical EVs.

Notably, Sila’s anode powder is about five times lighter than graphite, taking up only half the space when fully charged. Panasonic, aiming to increase the volumetric energy density of its batteries to 1,000 watt-hours per liter by 2030, has recognized the potential of Sila’s innovation.

Sila’s production facility in Moses Lake, Washington, is scaling up to meet automotive demands, attracting attention as a clean, hydroelectric hub. The shift towards sustainable and domestically sourced materials aligns with European regulations, requiring EV batteries to declare their carbon footprint. Sila’s move to Moses Lake ensures compliance with these regulations and aligns with the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) of 2022, which incentivizes domestic sourcing for EV subsidies.

While Sila faces competition from other U.S.-based silicon anode producers, including Group14 Technologies, Enevate, OneD Battery Sciences, and NanoGraf, the global EV market’s growth suggests room for various battery technologies. The shift in electric tech is seen as a diverse landscape, with different chemistries catering to varying performance needs in the evolving world of electric vehicles.

By Impact Lab