AZoCleantech speaks to Vincent Pluvinage, CEO and co-founder of OneD Battery Sciences, about SINANODE, an innovative technology set to make electric vehicles more cost-effective and with longer ranges.
Please tell us about yourself and the important role you have at OneD Battery Sciences.
My name is Vincent Pluvinage. I am the CEO and co-founder of OneD Battery Sciences, a Silicon Valley company that has developed a revolutionary process to improve EV battery efficiency. We call this process SINANODE - a manufacturing step that efficiently adds nano-silicon into a battery with the right size, shape, scale, and cost. This allows EV makers to produce more cost-effective electric vehicles with a longer range while meeting the market demand for better and less expensive EV batteries.
It is also the only company that is not seeking to replace existing suppliers to EV cell factories - but rather leverages the scale and investments of the current EV supply chain processes to enhance the performance of the EV anode materials while also reducing the costs and risks.
How important is the electric vehicle battery industry in helping us to reach climate goals across the world?
The demand for electric vehicles is accelerating and COP26’s declaration to advance the transition to 100% zero-emission vehicles only signifies this. As automotive manufacturers work towards the goal of reaching 100% zero emissions in new cars and van sales by 2035 or earlier, the key to meeting this demand will be determined by the cost of manufacturing higher performance EV batteries with a lower carbon footprint.
While EVs do not emit greenhouse gases, the current manufacturing of EV batteries requires large quantities of graphite powders. Many EV-grade graphite suppliers use energy from coal power plants, which have a significant carbon footprint. This is why it's critical to decrease the energy and the carbon footprint for EV battery manufacturing.
What challenges are there in terms of producing cost-effective and efficient batteries?
Consumers are demanding that their new electric vehicles have faster charging speeds, longer range, and, most importantly, are more affordable. In turn, automakers are looking to find new and innovative solutions to satisfy consumers. However, creating a new market of vehicles - 100% of EV fleets for many automakers - is uncharted territory and to do so in a cost-effective manner takes time, scale, and new manufacturing systems.
One manufacturing process that has gained traction – and is even seen as the breakthrough needed to produce EVs that meet market demand for high performance – is increasing the amount of silicon in EV batteries. Silicon is abundant and can store ten times more energy than graphite alone, enabling lighter batteries with increased range, faster charging, and lower carbon footprint. Silicon is already being used in small amounts in the batteries of a few EV models, including Tesla Y, Tesla 3, and Porsche Taycan.
To date, cost and technical challenges have limited the amount of silicon that can be added to EV batteries, leading to only modest improvements in battery performance.
Rather than trying to replace existing suppliers, OneD has developed a new process, SINANODE, that replaces inefficient steps in the development of silicon additives with a scalable technology that increases performance and decreases costs of the materials and cells used in EVs.
This breakthrough solution focuses on fusing silicon nanowires directly onto existing commercial graphite without inactive additives and without requiring mixing with graphite powders.
OneD Battery Sciences has developed high-performance SINANODE technology. Can you explain what this is and how this technology was developed?
SINANODE is a manufacturing process that simplifies the process of using silicon technology to meet the market demand for more efficient and cost-effective EV batteries. The process supercharges commercial graphite by fusing large numbers of very small silicon nanowires. With hundreds of thousands of wires on each graphite particle, these technologies “supercharge” the amount of energy stored, the speed of charging, and power delivered. It also drastically reduces the amount of graphite needed and the carbon footprint.
SINANODE was developed with commercial manufacturing CVD equipment available from multiple vendors, using only silane and nitrogen gases available in very large quantities at attractive costs. This reduces the investments and time necessary to scale up the SINANODE step to EV quantities, while decreasing the cost of EV anodes by almost 50%, in comparison to the cost of most competitive anodes used in EV batteries today.
When the battery is charged and discharged, the silicon nanowires remain pliant and do not crack. Just like extension cords plugged into a wall outlet, they easily carry electrons, delivering faster charging and greater power.
SINANODE: The Silicon Revolution (English Version)
Video Credit: OneD Battery Sciences/YouTube.com
Why is silicon an important material for producing EV batteries?
The EV industry is struggling with how to supply electric vehicles with longer range at a lower cost. While some of the advantages of using silicon have long been recognized, the solutions proposed until now have suffered from technical limitations, production costs, or incompatibility with the growing manufacturing supply chain.
OneD has found the solution for adding larger amounts of nano-silicon in the right size, shape, and at the right scale and cost, allowing EV makers to produce more cost-effective electric vehicles with a longer range. The SINANODE process is fully compatible with existing supply chains and manufacturing processes.
Image Credit: OneD Battery Sciences
What sets SINANODE batteries apart from current technology on the market?
What sets us apart is simple - the SINANODE process is the only manufacturing process that attaches silicon nanowires directly onto the graphite coating of EV cells. Over a decade of innovations have resulted in a proven process that is protected by 240 granted patents globally.
What really makes it stand out is its ability to be a value-add to current supply chain processes in place with automakers. Rather than trying to replace existing suppliers, adding SINANODE replaces inefficient steps in the current processing of silicon additives with a scalable technology that increases performance and decreases the costs of the materials and cells used in EVs.
SINANODE triples the energy density of anodes and halves its cost per kWh. This enables OEMs to design and produce electric vehicles that answer the booming market demand for better batteries. This technology is a truly unique way to empower key customers to take control of their EV technology road map and drive adoption in their supply chain.
SINANODE not only reduces the weight of EV batteries, but it also reduces the carbon footprint. A greater silicon-to-graphite ratio lowers the CO2 produced per kWh of battery manufactured, making it a lower-carbon option for manufacturers.
How are silicon nanowires processed during battery production and how is it more sustainable than traditional techniques?
Using only silane (a gas produced from metallurgical grade silicon and available from multiple suppliers), nitrogen, and modest amounts of electricity, the SINANODE process attaches silicon nanowires directly onto the graphite much like plugging an electrical cord into an outlet. When charging and discharging the battery, trillions of silicon nanowires carry electrons in and out of the battery safely and easily.
The SINANODE anode material can then be blended with graphite, to achieve high Initial Coulombic Efficiency and a higher anode specific capacity over more than 1000 full charge/discharge cycles than any state-of-the-art EV cells in production today. With hundreds of thousands of wires on each graphite particle, these technologies “supercharge” the amount of energy stored, the speed of charging, and power delivered.
What are the benefits of using silicon nanowires in EV batteries?
One-dimensional nano-silicon materials are man-made structures that benefit from quantum physics effects to have drastically different properties than larger silicon structures or even silicon nano-particles.
These materials are called “one-dimensional” because they are very thin and long, much like microscopic spaghetti. The very small diameter allows lithium-ions to absorb quickly and the lonitg length allows electrons to be quickly stored. Energy is stored by pairing each lithium-ion with an electron, which explains why silicon nanowires have such unique properties in EV batteries.
The material performs much better than nanoparticles as they do not increase the graphite powder surface area, but rather have a more stable SEI (the interface with the electrolyte) and the nanowire/graphite interface always remains mechanically and electronically intact during the life of the battery.
Is there a potential for this to be adopted throughout the world?
Yes, because the SINANODE process leverages current EV cell factory operations and can be applied worldwide. Industry experts predict that in the next few years, the amount of silicon in the EV anodes and the number of EVs with silicon-graphite anodes will both increase.
It will become the only way to produce small and inexpensive EVs with a long range, as well as produce premium EVs with fast-charging batteries.
How does SINANODE reduce the weight of EV batteries and what benefit does this have?
Electric cars generally have battery sizes of 50 to 100 kilowatt-hours, and it is suggested that battery production capacities will have to exceed 1000 gigawatt-hours by 2030 to meet the needs of European carmakers.
Using SINANODE reduces the weight of EV batteries by up to 20% while increasing the range by more than 20%.
How does SINANODE decrease the carbon footprint of electric vehicle batteries?
By focusing its efforts on EV cells rather than pursuing other battery segments, OneD has accomplished something quite remarkable, which is to enable less expensive but better EV batteries and to convert a larger fraction of the global new car sales from ICEs to EVs.
A greater silicon-to-graphite ratio also lowers the CO2 produced per kWh of battery manufactured.
By focusing on creating better cost-effective EV batteries with more nano-silicon, the SINANODE process reduces the anode carbon footprint per kWh by about 50%.
What challenges have you faced when developing SINANODE and how were these overcome?
Material sciences are not easy, especially at the nanoscale. In addition, most people thought that the processes used to make nanowires would be too complex to scale up to EV quantities and too expensive to reach the lower costs required.
It took more than a decade and many inventions based on industrial experiments, as our large portfolio of 240 granted patents indicates. This has granted more intellectual property assets than any other competing solution.
What are the next steps for OneD Battery Sciences?
We have recently announced the construction of our first pilot plant in Moses Lake, Washington that will be in production the first half of next year. Looking ahead to 2022, we expect to continue our momentum by cementing 2-3 automotive partners to operate with us at our pilot facilities.
Where can readers find more information?
OneD’s website: https://onedsinanode.com/
About Vincent Pluvinage, CEO and Co-Founder at OneD Battery Sciences
Vincent Pluvinage, PhD, is the CEO and co-founder of OneD Battery Sciences, which has developed SINANODE®, a set of technologies that “supercharge” the amount of energy stored, speed of charging, and power delivered to EV batteries.
Vincent’s career began at AT&T Bell Laboratories, where he developed novel sound processing techniques. He then began working at ReSound, where he produced a new digital hearing aid with programmable custom silicon circuits.
A serial entrepreneur and inventor, Vincent co-founded the software company Preview Systems (NASDAQ IPO, 1999), and later, IP Value Management, co-founded by Goldman Sachs, to manage large patent portfolios of companies such as Xerox, PARC, and British Telecom. He then led the Private Equity team at Intellectual Ventures with the purpose of creating innovative pathways that leverage patented inventions.
Vincent graduated summa cum laude from Université Catholique de Louvain in Belgium where he studied Applied Physics Engineering. He received a PhD in Bioengineering at the University of Michigan on a fellowship from the Belgian American Educational Foundation. He is an inventor of more than 100 patents worldwide and is passionate about bridging the gap between invention and commercialization, and creating innovative partnerships across the world that promote positive change.
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