Project to double range of electric vehicles with new batteries

Posted Jan 7, 2018 by Tim Sandle
A new British project sets out to double range of electric vehicle with the use of silicon batteries. This £10 million scheme is led by the startup Nexeon.
File photo: Electric car being charged in Amsterdam.
File photo: Electric car being charged in Amsterdam.
Ludovic Hirlimann / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0)
The goal of U.K. startup Nexeon is to develop new silicon materials for Li-ion batteries. The aim is for these to provide electric vehicles with a range of over 400 miles, which is around double what is currently possible with more conventional forms of energy storage devices.
The parent project is called SUNRISE, an acronym that relates to the different companies involved with the project (Synthomer, UCL & Nexeon’s Rapid Improvement in the Storage of Energy). The focus is to use silicon as a replacement for carbon in a battery cell anode. The project is also concerned with optimizing battery cell designs for a range of automotive applications.
The part played by Nexeon is to commercialize a silicon anode. The parts played by the other companies are: Synthomer leads on the development of a next generation polymer binder optimized to work with silicon to ensure anode/binder cohesion during a lifetime of charges. The third player is from academia - University College London (UCL), where researchers will lead the work on material characteristic and overall battery cell performance.
The reason silicon is being considered as a replacement for carbon in battery anodes is to increase the energy storage potential. One thing hampering such development is due to expansion, which occurs when cells are charged and discharged. Project SUNRISE aims to address the silicon expansion issue. This through enabling more silicon to be used, which raises the energy density that can be achieved in the cell.
Commenting on the process, Dr Scott Brown, who is the CEO of Nexeon, told EE News Europe: “The biggest problems facing EVs - range anxiety, cost, charge time or charging station availability - are almost all related to limitations of the batteries."
The researcher added: "Silicon anodes are now well established on the technology road maps of major automotive OEMs and cell makers, and Nexeon has received support from UK and global OEMs, several of whom will be involved in this project as it develops.”
Funding for the project has been provided by Innovate UK, as part of the Faraday Battery Challenge. The core ambition of the program is to make the U.K. "the go-to place for the research, development, manufacture and production of novel battery technologies for both the automotive and the wider relevant sectors." There is also a project for schools, aimed at teaching students about batteries and energy, as shown in the video below: