If we develop the future battery with components made of abundant silicon, storage capacity can be significantly increased.
As the world rapidly shifts towards electrified energy grids and transportation systems, a common problem has emerged. The storage capacity of batteries, which are necessary for fueling increasingly electric economies, are failing to keep up.
Storing energy is inherently expensive, and because of this, rechargeable batteries have struggled to remain cost-effective. The standard rechargeable battery is a lithium-ion or Li-ion battery. As renewable energy and electric cars become cheaper and more efficient, the demand for stored energy has grown significantly.
Unfortunately, battery storage has failed to maintain the same pace of innovation, creating a barrier for economies attempting to go electric. The good news is that by developing a battery that includes components made from silicon, the capacity of battery storage can be grown significantly.
The importance of such improvements cannot be understated, as economies will continue to grow increasingly reliant on battery technology to fuel their economies.
There is also the opportunity for battery storage innovation to quicken the pace at which carbon-free technology is ushered in at mass.
Understanding the mechanics behind rechargeable lithium-ion batteries is fairly straight forward, as they can be broken down into 3 main parts. On one end, there’s a positive electrode (in a battery, it’s known as a cathode, marked by the + sign), on the opposite end exists a negative electrode (in a battery, it’s known as an anode, marked by the – sign).
In the middle of the battery, separating the cathode from the anode is an electrolyte. A chemical reaction in the battery causes electrons to build up in the anode (-), and as they gather, they attempt to distance themselves from each other.
This is because of the natural tendency of electrons to repel each other due to their shared negative electrical charge. The electrolyte in the middle of the battery blocks electrons from dispersing to the cathode (+).
When the batteries are plugged into a device, a closed circuit is created, and the electrons flow out through the anode (-), through the circuit, powering the device until they reach the cathode (+).
Recharging a battery simply reverses the direction of the electrons by using another power source, such as solar energy.
In lithium-ion batteries, the anode is typically produced out of graphite, a natural form of carbon. By switching the anode’s material from graphite to silicon, batteries can store approximately ten times the amount of energy.
Silicon is the most energy-dense substance in the world, meaning for battery anodes, it’s significantly more efficient than graphite. There’s also an abundance of silicon, as it’s the second most frequent element on earth, trailing only oxygen.
The abundance of silicon would likely translate into lower manufacturing prices for rechargeable batteries, as there is an almost unlimited supply.
Improving the capacity of battery storage means that, when commercialized on an industrial scale, silicon anode batteries will hold decisive advantages over their traditional carbon anode counterparts.
Electric cars, green energy, and personal electronic devices, among other things, will be revolutionized by the ability to harness the energy capacity of silicon anodes. Electric cars will be able to travel significantly further on a single charge, massively increasing their viability.
For green energy, improved battery storage could lead to new options for residential energy production, as well as the quality of life improvements to communities that are isolated from Canada’s main electrical grid.
Silicon batteries are almost ready to revolutionize battery storage, and our innovative PUREVAP™ technology has quickened in the last few years and is now showing much promise.
As we explore and test the numerous ways of using silicon in batteries, one thing is certain: silicon batteries will effectively replace graphite in the battery of the future.