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Li-ion anode materials firm latest innovator to receive USABC funding

Mon, 08/05/2019 - 14:18 -- paul Crompton
Lithium-ion anode materials maker NanoGraf Technologies, formerly SiNode Systems, has been awarded a US$7.5 million grant to develop its graphite anode replacement product ahead of commercialisation plans.

Lithium-ion anode materials maker NanoGraf Technologies, formerly SiNode Systems, has been awarded a US$7.5 million grant to develop its graphite anode replacement product ahead of commercialisation plans.

The United States Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), a subsidiary of the United States Council for Automotive Research, awarded the cash to fund a 36-month project that began early last month.

The project goal is to advance the commercialisation of the Chicago firm’s   silicon-based active materials, which it is marketing as a replacement for graphite-based anodes in lithium-ion batteries for applications from consumer to electric vehicles.

The company claims its material can be added to electrode mixing and coating equipment to achieve capacities between 1,000 mAh/g and 2,500+ mAh/g—

current graphite-based anodes offer a capacity of around 372 mAh/g.

USABC aims to develop electrochemical energy storage technologies that support commercialisation of hybrid, plug-in hybrid, electric and fuel cell vehicles.

SiNode technology was first developed in 2010 by Northwestern University professor Harold Kung and Walter Murphy, professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering.

Nanograf was known as SiNode Systems before changing its name after entering a joint venture with Japanese materials supply company JNC corporation in December 2018.

MBA student at Northwestern Samir Mayekar helped launch SiNode Systems in 2011. The company was based at Illinois Institute of Technology’s University Technology Park.

Previous grant winners

  • In May, USABC awarded a $3m technology development contract to US firm Gotion to fund a 24-month research programme.

     The Ohio company aims to develop an electrolyte system that can reduce cell gassing and provide surface protection in lithium-ion batteries.

  • The previous month, US firm Zenlabs Energy was handed $4.8m to fund a 30-month project researching low-cost, fast-charge (LC/FC) battery technology for EVs. 

     The California–based firm is developing a scalable pre-lithiation method that enables the use of high-capacity silicon oxide anodes, and optimised cell designs to allow lithium-ion batteries to meet the consortium’s LC/FC EV battery goals. 

  • In September last year, XALT Energy was awarded a $4.6m contract to develop a 12-volt, lithium-ion stop-start system.  

     The Michigan, US, company is using the cash to fund a 36-month project to create a 12-volt stop-start system using lithium manganese oxide-lithium titanate chemistries with atomic layer deposition (ALD) coatings.

The program aims to determine whether ALD coatings can improve the cold crank performance of batteries by eliminating manganese dissolution from LMOs.

 

BEST insight by technical editor Dr Mike McDonagh

The use of silicon (Si) anodes in lithium-ion chemistries has been around for some time. It has a potential to provide up to 4,200mAh/g.

One of the basic problems is the high expansion and contraction of Si anode during lithiation and de-lithiation of the charge and discharge reactions.

Because the silicon is relatively brittle c.f. graphene, this leads to cracking and early failure.

The innovation of Nanograf is a graphene-wrapped silicon alloy anode. It combines the additional coulombic storage of a silicon alloy with a flexible 3D graphene network to overcome the cracking problem and provide extra capacity.

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