The UK's Nexeon has developed a "magic silver dust" -silver silicon powder- that appears to be a substantial improvement from current commercial batteries. The powder appears to have the potential to make electric cars a common site on the road. Imagine the implications from just the US market alone should 600 million US car batteries be made with this silver silicon powder over the next decade. The demand side implications for the already tight silver market are tremendous.
Silicon anode technology is set for use in laptops, phones, even cars – sparking an electric revolution on the roads
In a small lab near Didcot in Oxfordshire a group of scientists have created a special powder that they hope will prevent phone batteries dying before you get a chance to charge up, and make electric cars a common sight on the roads.
Nexeon has created the silicon powder that it hopes is the key to creating batteries on a commercial level, which will be used in everything from laptops to cars.
This "magic" dust is a powder created by running silver through particles of silicon to create spikes of matter – what Nexeon calls a hedgehog effect – that is used to help the movement of lithium in the battery cell. The powers of the silicon powder mean that, unlike carbon-only anodes, the batteries created from this will last longer, are lighter, and their rechargeability would not fade over time...
The latest funding round last month – £40m raised from current investors including Invesco Perpetual and Tudor Capital – allows Nexeon to scale up the production of its silicon anode materials from around 2.5 tons to around 250 tons per annum. This represents a commercial supply level and is what Sony and other battery suppliers, as well as the car companies, are interested in. Just last week BMW and Toyota announced a joint research venture into lithium ion batteries.
Nexeon has 125 patent applications for its technology across the globe – with 10 granted so far.
As Atherton says: "Anyone can make a battery. But we have the magic powder."