Mercedes-Benz to incorporate silicone-anode chemistry in EV batteries
24 May 2022
Mercedes-Benz is partnering with Sila, a next-generation battery-materials company, to incorporate silicon-anode chemistry in optional batteries for the carmaker’s G-Class model.
As electric vehicles (EVs) take centre stage in many carmakers’ fleet portfolios, the search is intensifying for better battery technology to give a company a marketable edge.
The high silicone-anode material produced by Sila will increase the energy density of batteries without compromising safety or other performance parameters. Compared to today’s commercially-available battery cells with a comparable format, Sila’s technology enables a 20-40% increase in energy density, reaching more than 800Wh/l at cell level.
This development allows Mercedes-Benz to store more energy in the same space, therefore increasing the range of its future vehicles by what the carmaker terms a ‘significant amount.’ This ability means cars will not need larger or more EV batteries to travel longer distances, with the weight saving also paying towards improved range.
Sustainable battery development
The advanced silicone-anode materials will be manufactured using 100% renewable energy in Sila’s new facility in Washington state, US. This makes Mercedes-Benz the factory’s first publicly-announced automotive customer. Both companies are targeting mid-decade for a range-extended version of the G-Class to be equipped with the new battery-technology option.
The ability to produce the materials using green energy is another positive development for Mercedes-Benz, which is looking to improve the sustainability of its vehicles by cutting carbon footprints throughout their lifecycles. While electric vehicles emit zero-carbon, their manufacture can be carbon-intensive unless sustainable practices are met, including the procurement of materials and their development into batteries and other items.
‘We are focused on delivering materials that are cost efficient and capable of delivering on the promise of electric vehicles, working to ensure longer range energy, improved charge times, and lowering battery cost per kWh,’ stated Gene Berdichevsky, co-founder and CEO of Sila. ‘To realise the potential of next-generation materials, scale-up is a pivotal part of execution and we have been building towards automotive quality standards and scale since our start.’
Building on investment
Mercedes-Benz invested in Sila in 2019 as part of the company’s research and development of advanced batteries for its future electric vehicles. The supply agreement is a natural next step for the partnership.
Since it was founded, Sila has created 55,000 iterations of lithium-ion chemistry with dramatically higher energy-density through research and development. The company is continuing to produce silicone-anode materials at scale and support their implementation, while meeting customer goals and safety requirements for shipping of products. This expertise is favourable to Mercedes-Benz, with large amounts of data to draw from in the implementation of the technology in electric vehicles.
‘Sila has come a long way since we established our strategic partnership in 2019,’ said Markus Schäfer, chief technology officer of Mercedes-Benz, responsible for development and procurement. ‘They have been proving their ability to not only deliver scientific innovation at the highest level, but also their ability to manufacture high quality material.
‘Delivering such a high energy density is a true game changer and allows us to think in completely new directions when developing electric cars. Our partnership with Sila is another essential step on our way to build the most desirable electric luxury cars.’