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SiC [Silicon-Graphene] Anodes Could make Electric Vehicles Viable

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Graphene Semiconductor StructureElectric vehicles [EV] suffer a major problem with public perception, specifically their battery packs. EV battery packs are prohibitively expensive when it comes to increasing range. Affordable EVs are limited in range, which keeps many customers from considering them.

The battery packs constitute such a big proportion that high-range EVs cost up to $100,000, but still only range about 200 miles.

Battery companies have been working on “the game-changing development” that might solve the problems with EV batteries, make them stronger, with more capacity, and hopefully cheaper. Some of them have not survived, including A123 Systems, which recently declared bankruptcy, and Toyota’s Scion iQ EV, which probably will never see widespread distribution.

CalBattery, a lithium-ion [Li-ion] battery research company working with Argonne National Laboratory, recently announced a anode development that could triple an Li-ion battery pack’s capacity. In a few years, this could translate to an EV like the economical Nissan LEAF with a range of 219 miles, or a luxurious Tesla Model S with a range of nearly 700 miles.

Conventional Li-ion batteries use graphite-based anodes, but by changing the material, CalBattery was able to realize a dramatic increase in capacity. The silicon-graphene [SiC] anode requires no other battery modifications, so the cathode and electrolyte stays the same.

“We believe that our new advanced silicon-graphene anode composite material is so good in terms of specific capacity and extended cycle life that it will become a graphite anode ‘drop-in’ replacement material for anodes in most lithium ion batteries over the next 2-3 years,” said CalBattery CEO Phil Roberts.

At the same time, the price of the modified Li-ion batteries could drop to as low as $175/kWh, which could make the energy storage of the SiC/Li-ion batteries competitive even with current hydrocarbon fuels. Cheaper and longer-range battery packs could turn EVs into a very marketable and viable vehicle.

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