Graphene-wrapped silicon anodes could be a battery game changer

EV battery lifespan

Canadian nanotechnology company Zentek has announced an exciting development in the lithium-ion battery space.

The development is a patent-pending graphene-wrapped silicon anode, potentially solving the expansion issue that silicon faces as an anode material.

The technology was developed by Prof. Michael Pope, an Associate Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo along with Dr. Marianna Uceda and Dr. Zimin She, with research funded by Zentek and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.

The problem is simple – silicon expands over 300% when lithium-ion batteries are charged and discharged, which reduces efficiency and capacity.

By surrounding the silicon anode in graphene, the high-capacity, high lifecycle benefits of silicon are realised without any expansion.

The graphene wrapper is a crumpled graphene shell that surrounds the silicon, protecting it and preventing it from expanding beyond normal size.

As we discussed in our graphene batteries piece, graphene has multiple applications for future EV batteries and improving lithium-ion technology is one of these.

Importantly, the graphene wrapper works with existing lithium-ion cells as a direct replacement for graphite, boosting the potential for mass commercialisation.

“We are very pleased to support Dr. Pope and his group at the University of Waterloo. Their innovation has the potential to improve the current lithium-ion battery by upgrading graphite to this graphene-wrapped silicon anode. Not only were the researchers able to demonstrate good performance with laboratory-scale half-cells, the performance was also validated with commercial lithium iron phosphate cathodes suggesting they could be a drop-in solution for enhancing already available battery technologies. We look forward to continuing our support of their research and development to potentially bring this technology to market. The company has begun discussions with a potential industry partner.”

Zentek’s CEO, Greg Fenton

Zentek’s efforts are impressive and the patent-pending technology could become dominant in the future. Watch this space!

Source: ACS Publications (research paper), Zentek.

James Lewis is our resident electrical head. He drives an MG ZS EV (2018, which he loves) and plans to get the new one soon. James is much more excited by the lower end of the EV market and is looking forward to the Ora Cat.