UK firm announces battery breakthrough


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UK firm announces battery breakthrough

Silicon anode boosts Li-ion capacity
By Clive Akass
Wednesday, 2 December 2009, 12:18

A LITTLE-KNOWN BRITISH COMPANY has developed a silicon anode that it says can increase the capacity of a Lithium-ion battery by up to 30 per cent.
Nexeon, a spin-off from London's Imperial College, says manufacturers can simply use the anode in existing battery designs and production lines as a slot-in replacement for conventional carbon designs.
Products using the new anode could be on the market within a year, but two to three years is more likely, according to Nexeon's engineering director, Ian McDonald.
"At the moment people are scratching about to get two to three percent improvements in battery performance. So to get a 25-to-30 percent improvement is a great step forward," McDonald said.
That translates to five or more hours of work-time from a laptop battery the size of one that lasts four hours using current Li-ion designs.
Silicon offers ten times the charge densities of carbon but to date it has not been used in anodes because it becomes physically unstable when repeatedly charged and discharged. Nexeon has got round this problem by using silicon with patented microstructures.
The company has been working "in stealth mode" since it was formed in 2006. "We have been filing patents and we did not want to draw attention to ourselves until we had got them," McDonald said.
"This is a very active area and as soon as people latch on to what you are doing they start filing patents in the same area. Now we have filed the patents and we are ready to commercialise. So we are putting our heads above the parapet."
The company is talking to both battery vendors and potential manufacturers of the anode. It already has a pilot plant testing production techniques and might manufacture the anodes itself.
Other companies are also trying to use silicon anodes but McDonald says some of the rival technology requires exotic production techniques. He reckons Nexeon has the edge in simplicity of production and price - its anodes are 'cost competitive' with carbon,
Charging times are also on a par with carbon and the technology can be used in batteries of all sizes and capacities, including those used for power tools and electric vehicles. µ

Uk firm announces battery breakthrough - The Inquirer

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