A Silicon Valley based battery research and manufacturing company has claimed to have invented a silicon lithium-ion battery that provides more energy density than current graphite based lithium-ion batteries. Sila, pronounced see-luh, means power in Ukrainian and Russian languages and ethics in Buddhism, was founded originally as a start-up at Georgia Tech, 12 years later and with over $900M of investment, Sila has created a new battery technology it calls Titan Silicon. The new battery fuses silicon and lithium-ion to make a battery that will offer a 20-percent boost to electric vehicles.
Current lithium-ion batteries use graphite as a kind of stabiliser. Graphite has great conductive properties, high energy density, and for the most part, is low cost and readily available. However, graphite adds weight to the overall battery not optimal for electric car makers seeking to extract every last mile out of their vehicles. Sila’s Titan Power battery is silicon based, silicon offers greater energy density and lower weight than graphite but it comes with a big problem.
Silicon is unstable when fused with lithium and causes significant swelling of the battery encasement. Indeed, silicon is currently used together with current graphite lithium-ion batteries but only makes up 5 percent of the material ingredients. Finding a formula to stabilize silicon and prevent expansion has been the biggest head-scratcher for battery researchers.
Sila appears to be confident they have found the correct formula, Titan Power is said to use 100 percent silicon for its lithium-ion based battery. Mercedes and Porsche are signed up and currently testing the battery technology. Tesla also wants to switch from graphite lithium batteries to silicon-based. It seems Sila and Titan Power has a lead and is scaling for mass production with Sila Titan Power batteries set to power Mercedes EVs by 2025.
Sila will further scale its battery production to meet enough demand for over 200,000 EVs by 2026 and 1 million by 2028. Initially, Sila Titan Power will be sold at a premium before prices stabilise and lower enough for total mass adoption.