Silicon product control for better Li-ion batteries (Siproco Fobeliba)
The importance of battery technology in our energy system is increasing all the time. From flashlights, computers and cellphones, to electric vehicles and soon houses and buildings will also have their own battery for storage of clean renewable electricity. In a future society without fossil fuels, energy storage becomes the key to flexibility in the energy supply. The rapid increase in the use of batteries demands new technology and innovation. In this project we investigate how we can make better rechargeable batteries.
IFE's battery research focuses on developing silicon as a material for storing the lithium in Li-ion batteries. Silicon can store up to ten times the amount of electric energy compared to the standard electrode material of today - graphite. Battery scientists agree that silicon will be a part of the batteries of the future, and some battery producers are already using a small percentage of silicon in the graphite electrode.
The problem with silicon is that it is so efficient in taking up lithium ions that the small silicon particles blow up like balloons. The particles are exposed to a tremendous mechanical stress, such that after a few charges they break down and the battery loses its high capacity.
Better understanding can solve the problem: This project will develop methods for understanding exactly what happens to the silicon particles. Since IFE has its own production technology for silicon particles, we can tailor silicon powders that can better withstand the uptake of lithium and thereby make batteries that retain their high capacity.
We believe that silicon has a place in future battery technology. Silicon will increase the storage capacity of today's batteries, and we will get more efficient use and storage of clean, renewable energy. This project also supports Norway's strong position and competence within silicon materials.
Silicon can greatly enhance the energy storage capacity in Li-ion batteries. But how do we make the needed silicon materials in the most efficient way? What is the ideal material like, how does it react to further processing, how does it change during cycling, and how can we find a balance between efficient, cheap production and high durability? These are the questions to be answered by this project.
The project is cross-disciplinary: Combining competence from three different departments at Institute for Energy Technology, we will be able to investigate and tailor the silicon materials from the production stage to electrode preparation and cycling. In the production process and during final operation, we will make use of advanced material characterization methods available only at IFE in Norway to better understand how the silicon material behaves during the different steps. This information will provide input to tailor the production process for the best particles with regards to battery performance and production efficiency.
Silicon powder synthesized at IFE and a SEM micrograph of powder from IFE.
2016-08-04 Trygve Tveiterås Mongstad / Marte Orderud Skare