Nanosilicon to replace graphite in electric vehicle batteries and improve their performance

After a long time of more or less secret research, the company specializing in materials technologies Ionic MT has submitted a nanosilicon, silicon configured in nanotubes, derived from halloysite. East Ionisil has the ability to directly replace the graphite anodes of lithium batteries, improving its performance. The company controls and manages the world’s largest deposit of high purity halloysitewith what he has in his hand to scale production to meet the demand of manufacturers

Lithium-ion batteries are currently the most widely used both in portable devices and in applications that require high energy densities, such as electric vehicles. Its properties integrate the minimum criteria necessary to be technically and economically viable: safety requirements, energy density Y Lifecycle high. Lastly, they offer high percentages of reuse and recyclingall this, to lowest possible cost.

Nevertheless, its limitations have become apparent, especially with its use in electric vehicles, which require greater durability, energy density and longevity. This is why many research teams have been looking for alternative materials to use in these batteries. One of them is the silicon that would replace the graphite that forms the structure of the anode, on which the lithium ions are deposited. It is a very abundant and cheap material with a theoretical discharge capacity higher than that of graphite.

Silicon has the potential to significantly increase the energy density of batteries. Its capacity is an order of magnitude higher than that of graphite so that at the cell level, energy density could almost double, providing obvious benefits in the autonomy of electric vehicles. However, silicon anodes also have some drawbacks. The problem that arises when silicon is used as the anode material is its high degradation, resulting in poor battery life. The volume changes that the anode undergoes during the charge and discharge cycles lead to the consumption of the electrolyte and lithium and cause mechanical stresses that ultimately result in the loss of electrical and ionic conductivity.

Ionic MT halloysite nanosilicon silicon nanowires lithium-interior batteries
Morphology of Ionic MT silicon nanotubes that replace the anode graphite of lithium-ion batteries.

It is in this scenario that Ionic MT appears, a producer of integrated nanosilicon vertically, which claims to have resolved these drawbacks with silicon nanowires arranged like a kind of forest of cables so that they are able to tolerate swelling and resist cracking. This extends the useful life of the cell to such an extent that silicon anodes can become a competitive technology.

Ionic says that with its technology it can ensure greater autonomy and charging speed for electric vehicles. The company controls what it calls the world’s largest deposit of high-purity halloysite, a feedstock it plans to use to make nanosilicon at scale. The Ionic MT pilot plant It includes a complete battery testing laboratory, facilities to wet-clean gangue minerals from halloysite, and a pilot-scale silicon production furnace to convert it to nanosilicon.

Halloysite-derived nanosilicon is “an industry game changer,” says Andre Zeitoun, founder and CEO of Ionic. “We are the first to harness this vast natural resource for the electric vehicle supply chain. With our approach, scalability is our advantage.”

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