GM's Future Silicon Batteries Will Help It Win EV Race

Electric Vehicles / 6 Comments

To do that, the automaker has partnered with a California-based battery manufacturer.

Any automaker that can get a jumpstart on the next generation of EV batteries is going to have quite an edge over the competition, and that's what General Motors is aiming for after announcing a joint research development agreement with OneD Battery Sciences. This agreement focuses on the potential implementation of OneD's silicon nanotechnology in GM's Ultium battery cells.

The benefits? Not only will the increases in energy density provide your EV with a longer range, but it'll charge faster and there will be reduced costs for the manufacturer - hopefully, these will be passed on to the customer too. This collaboration on silicon anode technology is believed to be the first of its kind for two American companies.

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EV battery tech has advanced at a rapid rate over the last few years, with the basic lithium-ion batteries from a few years ago quickly becoming outclassed. One example of this is China's new XPeng G9, claimed to be the fastest-charging EV ever thanks, in part, to its 800-volt mass-production Silicon Carbide (SiC) platform. BMW is also developing next-gen batteries with more silicon.

GM, which is rapidly scaling its own Ultium EV Platform to reach an annual capacity of one million units in the USA by 2025, will be hoping that its collaboration with OneD yields similar benefits to what is being seen in China. Because silicon can store 10 times more energy than graphite, it promises the development of battery packs that are smaller, lighter, and more efficient.

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OneD's Sinanode platform works by adding "more silicon onto the anode battery cells by fusing silicon nanowires into EV-grade graphite." Although GM's Ultium batteries are already very advanced, the platform was designed to be improved over time.

"GM designed Ultium to be a supremely flexible platform so we can continuously improve our cells as battery technology advances," said Kent Helfrich, GM's chief technology officer. "Our collaboration with OneD will focus on efforts to continue advancements in EV range, performance, and cost."

Currently, the Ultium platform underpins vehicles like the Cadillac Lyriq and GMC Hummer EV, and it will also be used for upcoming EVs such as the Honda Prologue and Chevrolet Blazer EV.

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The current Lyriq has a decent EPA-rated range of 312 miles, and although GM hasn't provided figures suggesting what improvements can be expected from the use of the silicon nanotechnology, we expect a vehicle like the Lyriq to hit at least 400 miles with the improved tech. OneD certainly seems confident about the possibilities.

"We believe that the winners of the EV race will be those who can effectively add more silicon to the battery cell, in a way that doesn't disrupt existing supply chains and processes," said Vincent Pluvinage, CEO of OneD Battery Sciences. "We're thrilled to collaborate with General Motors on our shared goal of accelerating mass EV adoption."


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