Researchers Claim They Can Potentially Double the Driving Range of Electric Vehicles

A team of researchers led by Hun-Gi Jung at the Center for Energy Storage Research at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) has claimed to have come up with silicon anode materials that can increase the battery capacity by four times as compared to the traditional graphite anode materials.

According to the researchers, the materials can also help in rapid charging to more than 80% in just five minutes. When used in EVs, these batteries are expected to double the driving range.

This latest development, if successfully commercialized, could be a boon for electric vehicle owners and manufacturers who have been striving hard to increase the battery capacity and reduce the charging time to foster the wider adoption of electric mobility.

Currently, the batteries deployed in EVs use graphite anodes, which leads to a shorter driving range and a longer charging time. It should also be noted that silicon with an energy storage capacity of ten times more than graphite is being hailed as the next generation anode material for the development of long-range EVs.

But the one thing that goes against the commercialization of silicon is the fact that it expands rapidly, and storage capacity reduces significantly during charge and discharge cycles. Researchers all across the globe have been working on increasing the stability of silicon as an anode material, but the cost and complexity of these methods have prevented silicon from replacing graphite as the preferred material.

“We were able to develop carbon-silicon composite materials using common, everyday materials, and simple mixing and thermal processes with no reactors. The simple processes we adopted and the composites with excellent properties that we developed are highly likely to be commercialized and mass-produced. The composites could be applied to lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles and energy storage systems (ESSs),” says Jung, the lead researcher at KIST.

In their endeavor to increase the stability of silicon, the research team at KIST focused on materials that are commonly used in our daily lives. The researchers dissolved silicon and starch in water and oil and increased the temperature in an attempt to produce carbon-silicon composites.  The simple process of frying was used to fix the carbon and silicon to prevent silicon from expanding during the charge and discharge cycles.

The research team claimed that the composite materials demonstrated a capacity four-times greater than that of graphite (360 mAh/g-1,530 mAh/g) and stable capacity retention of over 500 cycles. The carbon spheres present in the composite materials prevented the volume expansion of silicon, thus enhancing the stability of the silicon materials.

Notably, the highly conductive carbon and the restructuring of the silicon structure resulted in high output and efficiency.

Recently, the Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) announced that it has partnered with Phinergy, an Israeli battery manufacturer, to produce metal-air batteries, which could potentially be used in electric vehicles. These batteries can be tailored for different needs like electric mobility and other stationery purposes.

Earlier, Toyota Motor and Panasonic Corporation joined hands to establish a joint venture specializing in automotive prismatic batteries for electric vehicles. The joint venture will be called Prime Planet Energy & Solutions, Inc. Prismatic batteries offer a viable alternative for providing energy for automobiles and other forms of e-mobility, which can address the growing concerns regarding environmental issues and can play a central role in driving the e-mobility ecosystem forward.