Sila Nanotechnology, which is a Silicon Valley-centered battery materials firm backed by Daimler, announced that the very first commercial application of the silicon-based anodes would be for a new fitness tracker, with a longer-term goal of assisting in the development of lower-cost, longer-range electric vehicles.
The materials developed by the Alameda, California-based business are being utilized in WHOOP 4.0 health and fitness monitor, enabling a smaller battery and a much more compact device. According to founders and CEO Gene Berdichevsky, Sila Nano is ramping up manufacturing of its anode materials that replace standard graphite anodes in the lithium-ion batteries, with the goal of offering them for electric car battery packs by 2025. He claims that the commercialization of the improved anode technology is the largest milestone for lithium-ion cells in 30 years. He is an ex-Tesla battery engineer.
“What this truly indicates is that our technique isn’t just a nice scientific accomplishment; it’s also feasible, commercially scalable, and can lead to faster electrification of everything over time,” he tells Forbes. “What’s very remarkable about this innovation is that the material nature is identical between both the WHOOP 4.0 and the WHOOP 4.0. and what will go into a BMW, a Mercedes, or any other electric vehicle in the future. All we have to do now is make more of it.”
Sila claims that their silicon-based anode powder improves efficiency by 20% over conventional lithium-ion cells and might eventually increase efficiency by 40%. With gains of that scale, automakers may reduce the size of battery packs to obtain the same range or produce EVs with a higher range without increasing weight, making electric vehicles more affordable.
Sila Nano’s claims about material advancements could be crucial in keeping the price of electric cars and advanced batteries down. Because batteries rely on internationally supplied commodity metals and materials, they are still the most expensive portion of an electric vehicle and may stay so even if pack efficiency improves.
Tesla, for instance, continues to grow its electric car and hatchback sales, but it still has a hard time selling any of its versions for lower than $40,000. Berdichevsky cocreated Sila Nano over a decade ago after working on Tesla’s initial battery team when the Roadster was released in 2008. Coatue Management, 8VC, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, Bessemer Venture Partners, Sutter Hill Ventures, and Daimler have invested over $900 million in the company. The company is also collaborating with BMW and Amperex Technology Limited, or ATL, of Japan, on plans to construct a North American plant in 2024 that will create anode components for 100 GWh of batteries yearly, enough to power 1 million electric vehicles.