Silicon Product Improvement via Coating Enhancement (SPICE)
Oxford Materials Characterisation Service (OMCS) is collaborating in a Nexeon lead project to optimise coating technology for its silicon anode material. This approach will result in improved cell performance, and also extend the system compatibility of silicon anode materials, allowing use of lower cost electrolyte formulations and lower overall battery cell costs.
The project, named SPICE for Silicon Product Improvement through Coating Enhancement, is underway, and is expected to take 24 months to complete. The focus of the work will be the use of an optimised coating for improved surface morphology, leading to improved conductivity of the underlying anode material for faster charge rates, and sustained capacity of the battery during charge / discharge cycles.
The consortium comprises Nexeon, Phoenix Scientific Industries (PSI), AMTE Power plc (formerly AGM Batteries Limited) and Oxford University’s Department of Materials (OMCS). The team has been awarded £2 million in funding through the Government’s ISCF Faraday Battery Challenge by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, which is matched with a further £1.3m in funding from the industrial partners.
Battery cells typically represent >60% of the cost of an electric vehicle (EV) battery pack and almost 100% are currently imported to the UK. Security of supply is a major concern for UK pack builders and vehicle OEMs. The need for UK based core cell material manufacturers is partly addressed through this project - secure supply of IP rich, cell performance enhancing materials means that the cells developed in the UK can offer leading edge performance and provide the consortium members the confidence to scale beyond niche and into mass market application.
OMCS brings its expertise in analysing battery materials and the application of state-of-the-art characterisation techniques (high resolution transmission electron microscopy, focused ion beam milling, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, Raman spectroscopy) to help understand and optimise the carbon coating process. This includes assessing the surface chemistry, uniformity, quality and ultimately the performance of the enhanced anode material. In the latter stages of the project OMCS will also undertake full cell analysis and investigate end of life cells after accelerated and aggressive cycling.