SPICE project to boost silicon anode production

June 12, 2019 //By Nick Flaherty
A UK research project aims to optimise the coating technology for a silicon anode in a battery, reducing costs and improving the cell performance.
A UK research project aims to optimise the coating technology for a silicon anode in a battery, reducing costs and improving the cell performance.

The £2m (€2.2m) Silicon Product Improvement through Coating Enhancement (SPICE) proct is led by silicon anode developer Nexeon. Over the next 18 months the improved coating will boost the conductivity of the underlying anode material for faster charge rates, and sustained capacity of the battery during charge / discharge cycles. The lower cost comes from the use of lower cost electrolyte formulations.

Nexeon is working with partners Phoenix Scientific Industries (PSI), battery cell maker AGM Batteries in Scotland and Oxford University’s Department of Materials, and funded by the UK government's  Government’s Faraday Battery Challenge.

Nexeon has already established a laboratory scale coating process for its silicon anode material, and its scale up team has expertise in scaling up high value materials to mass production. A chemical vapour deposition coating process is being designed by PSI, which produced a similar system for coating powders for a major aerospace company.

AGM Batteries is the UK’s only cell manufacturer, with significant experience in developing new battery technology and chemistry. Its skills enable the transfer of new products to manufacture. AGM’s role in the SPICE work is to validate the performance of prototype cells incorporating Nexeon’s coated silicon anode powder, and to open its subsequent routes to market.

The project draws on Oxford University Department of Materials expertise to understand what is happening at the molecular level, assessing the uniformity, quality and performance of the special coating.

“This is an important step in the development of silicon battery materials,” said Dr Scott Brown, CEO of Nexeon. “Using an optimised coating has several important performance advantages, and will further strengthen the case for adoption of silicon anode technology by OEMs and battery makers globally.”

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