WSJ – The Battery Boost We’ve Been Waiting for Is Only a Few Years Out

  • soon experience capacity to store electricity will jump by double-digit percentages
  • next five to 10 years
  • Currently  every lithium-ion battery has an anode and a cathode. Lithium ions traveling between them yield the electrical current
  •  anodes in lithium-ion batteries are made of graphite, which is carbon in a crystalline form
    • researchers have long known a different material, silicon, can hold 25 times as many
  • silicon brings with it technical challenges – a pure silicon anode will soak up so many lithium ions that it gets “pulverized” after a single charge
  • today’s batteries, silicon is at most 10% of the anode
  • some startups say production-ready batteries with anodes that are mostly silicon. Sila Nanotechnologies, Angstron Materials ,Enovix and Enevate, others, offer materials for so-called lithium-silicon batteries
    • secret is nanoparticles lots of empty space inside — the lithium can be absorbed into the particle without making the anode swell and shatter
    • there’s a trade-off — byallowing more room inside the anode for lithium ions, manufacturers must produce a larger anode. This anode takes up more space in the battery and thus less overall space to increase capacity
  • first commercial consumer devices to have higher-capacity lithium-silicon batteries will likely be announced in the next two years
  • Enovix, whose investors include Intel and Qualcomm, has pioneered a different kind of 3-D structure for its batteries – downside: producing these will require a significant departure from the current manufacturing process.
    • will require a change in battery composition—such as lithium-sulfur chemistry or solid-state batteries
  • capacity of lithium-ion batteries has increased threefold since their introduction in 1991

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